I am researching about exploration in robotics field, for example, how to make roomba (I hope you all might know this cleaning robot) explore more efficiently in an office room. For some cleaning robots, they try to use a shape of the room to decide the efficient path for the robots to explore and clean the room.

Since this kind of exploration plans are not necessary limiting to only room. It can be any environment. For example, we want a robot to clean on the table, so here we use the shape of table's surface (which is usually square or circle ) to make effective path.

So here comes the question. I want to use more appropriate word for "the shape of environment." Because "shape" can be more than 2 dimension and I want to mean only the draft line of shape of environment like the lines you draw on soccer field, basketball field, etc. What I am only thinking of now are "the boundary of environment" or "the outline of environment." Any suggestion would be appreciated.

6 Answers 6



has the connotation of viable area of concern.


You could refer to the locus (plural: loci) of the robot.

A locus may alternatively be described as the path through which a point moves to fulfill a given condition or conditions. So, for example, a circle may also be defined as the locus of a point moving so as to remain at a given distance from a fixed point.

So for example, the robot's locus would be those points (and areas) it can cover, but not those tight corners it cannot fit inside.

This word has been used in a patent for a robot locus control system, and in papers describing robot locus or locus plans.

  • good idea, but I think it's not clear enough and may have ambiguous meaning for the people who read it. For example, when someone say "the locus of the robot", will you understand that speaker wanna talk about the shape of environment or the boundary of environment?
    – A-letubby
    Oct 24, 2011 at 14:48
  • If said "the locus of the robot" I would understand it as the parts of the environment the robot can get to. So if you imagine a donkey on a rope, the locus of the donkey is within the imaginary circle it can reach to, not the rectangular field. And if there was a shed within that imaginary circle, well, the donkey cannot reach the full circle and the locus would be smaller.
    – Hugo
    Oct 24, 2011 at 14:55

In question How would I express the notion of 'inner perimeter' succinctly?, the term 'perimeter' was suggested, and that term may apply here as well. If it doesn't seem appropriate to you, then add more details to your question.

In addition, consider ambit (“The sphere or area of control and influence of something” or “A circuit, or a boundary around a property”), milieu (“a person’s social setting or environment”), and Wiktionary's sense 3 of geometry (“the spatial attributes of an object, etc.”).


Given the description as it is at the moment, it sounds like you want to determine the shape of the (inner) perimeter.

Though maybe it's the area's plan geometry (sample usage), which might include the shape, location and orientation of any fixed obstacles within the area of interest, as well as the shape of the inner perimeter.


In Geographic Information Systems (or GIS), the simple term "polygon" refers to a shape on the landscape: "On a map, a closed shape defined by a connected sequence of x,y coordinate pairs, where the first and last coordinate pair are the same and all other pairs are unique."


The area can be disjoint and may also cover part of a room. This is why perimeter isn't the best choice. Something more like area under supervision would convey that it's specific places mapped for the robot. Those lazy and expensive robots still don't get the crevice tool out or give something a wipe when needed. I wanted to find a better word but "coverage" will have to do.

  • This is a good comment but still a comment, not an answer (unless you flesh out your suggestions).
    – itsbruce
    Nov 1, 2012 at 17:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.