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An optimization algorithm for assigning in realtime multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to task tours is presented and tested as part of a flight demonstration program. The scenario of interest is one where multiple microaerial vehicles are launched from a small UAV in order to investigate selected targets in an urban terrain. For path planning, we use the Dubin's car model so that the vehicles' dynamic constraint of minimum turning radius is taken into account. Due to the prohibitive computational complexity of the coupled path optimization and assignment problem, we solve the problem by ordering a set of tasks based on the Euclidean distance, utilizing a traveling salesman problem solver. We apply upper and lower bounding procedures iteratively on active subsets within the set of feasible group assignments, enabling efficient search of the solution space. The online implementation of the algorithm is discussed and simulation results confirm the efficiency of the proposed algorithm. Results from recent flight tests are also provided.
Date of Publication: July 2007