A chance-constrained dynamic programming algorithm was developed that is capable of making optimal sequential decisions within a user-specified risk bound. This work handles stochastic uncertainties over multiple stages in the CEMAT (Combined EDL-Mobility Analyses Tool) framework. It was demonstrated by a simulation of Mars entry, descent, and landing (EDL) using real landscape data obtained from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Although standard dynamic programming (DP) provides a general framework for optimal sequential decisionmaking under uncertainty, it typically achieves risk aversion by imposing an arbitrary penalty on failure states. Such a penalty-based approach cannot explicitly bound the probability of mission failure. A key idea behind the new approach is called risk allocation, which decomposes a joint chance constraint into a set of individual chance constraints and distributes risk over them. The joint chance constraint was reformulated into a constraint on an expectation over a sum of an indicator function, which can be incorporated into the cost function by dualizing the optimization problem. As a result, the chance-constraint optimization problem can be turned into an unconstrained optimization over a Lagrangian, which can be solved efficiently using a standard DP approach.