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Coordinated multi-robot exploration

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4 Author(s)
Burgard, W. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Univ. of Freiburg, Germany ; Moors, M. ; Stachniss, C. ; Schneider, F.E.

In this paper, we consider the problem of exploring an unknown environment with a team of robots. As in single-robot exploration the goal is to minimize the overall exploration time. The key problem to be solved in the context of multiple robots is to choose appropriate target points for the individual robots so that they simultaneously explore different regions of the environment. We present an approach for the coordination of multiple robots, which simultaneously takes into account the cost of reaching a target point and its utility. Whenever a target point is assigned to a specific robot, the utility of the unexplored area visible from this target position is reduced. In this way, different target locations are assigned to the individual robots. We furthermore describe how our algorithm can be extended to situations in which the communication range of the robots is limited. Our technique has been implemented and tested extensively in real-world experiments and simulation runs. The results demonstrate that our technique effectively distributes the robots over the environment and allows them to quickly accomplish their mission.

Published in:

Robotics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 3 )