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This paper addresses the problem of capturing an arbitrary convex object P in the plane with three congruent disc-shaped robots. Given two stationary robots in contact with P, we characterize the set of positions of a third robot, the so-called capture region, that prevent P from escaping to infinity via continuous rigid motion. We show that the computation of the capture region reduces to a visibility problem. We present two algorithms for solving this problem, and for computing the capture region when P is a polygon and the robots are points (zero-radius discs). The first algorithm is exact and has polynomial time complexity. The second one uses simple hidden surface removal techniques from computer graphics to output an arbitrarily accurate approximation of the capture region; it has been implemented, and examples are presented.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2007