RogerRoast sends this quote from the MIT News Office:
"As intuitive as it seems to a human being, spontaneously planning a trajectory around obstacles in free space is a monstrously complex computation. As a consequence, most motion-planning algorithms give up on the idea of finding the most efficient path between the robot’s initial state and its goal, settling for any path that won’t introduce collisions. [Researchers at MIT] have built a new robotic motion-planning system that calculates much more efficient trajectories through free space. ... Not only do robots guided by the system move more efficiently, saving time and energy, but they also move more predictably (PDF), a crucial consideration if they're to interact with humans."