TRiLOGy - Sustainable Transportation and Logistics Over Water: Electrification, Automation, and Optimization

Image courtesy of MIT/AMS.

TRiLOGy will unlock the potential of transportation and logistics in urban waterways with electric and autonomous vessels by enabling safer, more sustainable and efficient operations. The project is divided into two main modules:

  1. 1. Autonomy
  2. 2. Fleet management

The autonomy module, which is the focus of our group, aims at developing autonomy tools for navigation in inland waterways, among other manned and unmanned vessels. The main challenges to ensure safe and efficient navigation of autonomous vessels in urban waters is that of generating safe trajectories that (i) take into account the goals expressed by the high-level integrated strategy, (ii) take into account the complex dynamics of the vessel and (iii) coordinate with other traffic participants.


Elia Trevisan
Prof. Javier Alonso-Mora
Key collaborators: Prof. Bilge Atasoy and project partners


NWO Top Sector Water & Maritime: the Blue route, "Sustainable Transportation and Logistics over Water: Electrification, Automation and Optimization (TRiLOGy)", 2020-2024.


[project's website]



C03 Walter Jansma, Elia Trevisan, Álvaro Serra-Gómez and Javier Alonso-Mora, Interaction-Aware Sampling-Based MPC with Learned Local Goal Predictions, in Proc. IEEE International Symposium on Multi-Robot and Multi-Agent Systems, Dec. 2023.
Links: [PDF] [Data, Model, Code and Video]
Abstract: Motion planning for autonomous robots in tight, interaction-rich, and mixed human-robot environments is challenging. State-of-the-art methods typically separate prediction and planning, predicting other agents' trajectories first and then planning the ego agent's motion in the remaining free space. However, agents' lack of awareness of their influence on others can lead to the freezing robot problem. We build upon Interaction-Aware Model Predictive Path Integral (IA-MPPI) control and combine it with learning-based trajectory predictions, thereby relaxing its reliance on communicated short-term goals for other agents. We apply this framework to Autonomous Surface Vessels (ASVs) navigating urban canals. By generating an artificial dataset in real sections of Amsterdam's canals, adapting and training a prediction model for our domain, and proposing heuristics to extract local goals, we enable effective cooperation in planning. Our approach improves autonomous robot navigation in complex, crowded environments, with potential implications for multi-agent systems and human-robot interaction.
C02 L. Streichenberg, E. Trevisan, J. J. Chung, R. Siegwart and J. Alonso-Mora, Multi-Agent Path Integral Control for Interaction-Aware Motion Planning in Urban Canals, in IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May. 2023.
Links: [PDF],
Abstract: Autonomous vehicles that operate in urban envi- ronments shall comply with existing rules and reason about the interactions with other decision-making agents. In this paper, we introduce a decentralized and communication-free interaction-aware motion planner and apply it to Autonomous Surface Vessels (ASVs) in urban canals. We build upon a sampling-based method, namely Model Predictive Path Integral control (MPPI), and employ it to, in each time instance, compute both a collision-free trajectory for the vehicle and a prediction of other agents’ trajectories, thus modeling inter- actions. To improve the method’s efficiency in multi-agent sce- narios, we introduce a two-stage sample evaluation strategy and define an appropriate cost function to achieve rule compliance. We evaluate this decentralized approach in simulations with multiple vessels in real scenarios extracted from Amsterdam’s canals, showing superior performance than a state-of-the- art trajectory optimization framework and robustness when encountering different types of agents.
C01 J. de Vries, E. Trevisan, J. van der Toorn, T. Das, B. Brito, J. Alonso-Mora, Regulations Aware Motion Planning for Autonomous Surface Vessels in Urban Canals, in Proc. IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2022.
Links: [web], [PDF], [video],
Abstract: In unstructured urban canals, regulation-aware interactions with other vessels are essential for collision avoidance and social compliance. In this paper, we propose a regulations aware motion planning framework for Autonomous Surface Vessels (ASVs) that accounts for dynamic and static obstacles. Our method builds upon local model predictive contouring control (LMPCC) to generate motion plans satisfying kino-dynamic and collision constraints in real-time while including regulation awareness. To incorporate regulations in the planning stage, we propose a cost function encouraging compliance with rules describing interactions with other vessels similar to COLlision avoidance REGulations at sea (COLREGs). These regulations are essential to make an ASV behave in a predictable and socially compliant manner with regard to other vessels. We compare the framework against baseline methods and show more effective regulation-compliance avoidance of moving obstacles with our motion planner. Additionally, we present experimental results in an outdoor environment.
W01 Corrado Pezzato, Chadi Salmi, Elia Trevisan, Javier Alonso-Mora, Carlos Hernández Corbato, Sampling-Based MPC Using a GPU-parallelizable Physics Simulator as Dynamic Model: an Open Source Implementation with IsaacGym, in Embracing Contacts Workshop (ICRA), May. 2023.
Links: [PDF], [Code], [Web],
Abstract: We present a method for solving finite horizon optimal control problems using a generic physics simulator as the dynamical model. In particular, we present an open-source implementation of a model predictive path integral controller (MPPI), that uses the GPU-parallelizable IsaacGym simulator as the dynamical model to compute the forward dynamics of the system. This allows one to effortlessly solve complex contact-rich tasks such as for example, non-prehensile manipulation of a variety of objects, or picking with a mobile manipulator. Since there is no explicit dynamic modeling required from a user, the repository is easily extendable to different objects and robots, as we show in the experiments section. This makes this method a powerful and accessible tool to solve a large variety of contact-rich tasks.