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In this paper, we consider a class of dynamic vehicle routing problems, in which a number of mobile agents in the plane must visit target points generated over time by a stochastic process. It is desired to design motion coordination strategies in order to minimize the expected time between the appearance of a target point and the time it is visited by one of the agents. We propose control strategies that, while making minimal or no assumptions on communications between agents, provide the same level of steady-state performance achieved by the best known decentralized strategies. In other words, we demonstrate that inter-agent communication does not improve the efficiency of such systems, but merely affects the rate of convergence to the steady state. Furthermore, the proposed strategies do not rely on the knowledge of the details of the underlying stochastic process. Finally, we show that our proposed strategies yield an efficient, pure Nash equilibrium in a game theoretic formulation of the problem, in which each agent's objective is to maximize the expected value of the ldquotime spent alonerdquo at the next target location. Simulation results are presented and discussed.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2009