Optimal trajectory planning problems are often formulated as constrained variational problems. In general, solutions to variational problems are determined by appropriately discretizing the underlying objective functional and solving the resulting nonlinear differential equation(s) and/or nonlinear programming problem(s) numerically. These general solution techniques often require a significant amount of time to be computed, and therefore are of limited value when optimal trajectories need to be frequently computed and/or re-computed. In this paper, a realistic class of optimal trajectory planning problems is defined for which the existence of fast numerical solution techniques are demonstrated. To illustrate the practicality of this class of trajectory planning problems and t8he proposed solution techniques, three optimal trajectory planning problems for spray coating applications are formulated and solved. Based on the proposed discretization technique, it is shown that these problems can be reduced to either a linear progranl or a qua,dratic program, which are readily solved. In contrast, using the standard discretization of these problems genera.11~le ads to nonconvex nonlinear programming problems that require a significant amount of computation to arrive at a (possibly) locally optimal solution.
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