We present a new approach to path planning for deformable linear (one-dimensional) objects such as flexible wires. We introduce a method for efficiently computing stable configurations of a wire subject to manipulation constraints. These configurations correspond to minimal-energy curves. By
restricting the planner to minimal-energy curves, the execution of a path becomes easier. Our curve representation is adaptive in the sense that the number of parameters automatically varies with the complexity of the underlying curve. We introduce a planner that computes paths from one minimal-energy curve to another such that all intermediate curves are also minimal-energy
curves. This planner can be used as a powerful local planner in a sampling-based roadmap method. This makes it possible to compute a roadmap of the entire “shape space,” which is not possible with previous approaches. Using a simplified model for obstacles, we can find minimal-energy curves of fixed length that pass through specified tangents at given control points. Our work has applications in cable routing, and motion planning for surgical suturing and snake-like robots.