Time-extended Multi-robot Coordination for Domains with Intra-path constraints

Edward Jones, M Bernardine Dias, and Anthony (Tony) Stentz
Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS), July, 2009.


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Abstract
Many applications require teams of robots to cooperatively execute complex tasks. Among these domains are those where successful coordination solutions must respect constraints that occur on the intra-path level. This work focuses on multi-agent coordination for disaster response with intra-path constraints, a compelling application that is not well addressed by current coordination methods. In this domain a group of fire trucks agents attempt to address a number of fires spread throughout a city in the wake of a large-scale disaster. The disaster has also caused many city roads to be blocked by impassable debris, which can be cleared by bulldozer robots. A high-quality coordination solution must determine not only a task allocation but also what routes the fire trucks should take given the intra-path precedence constraints and which bulldozers should be assigned to clear debris along those routes. This work presents two methods for generating time-extended coordination solutions -- solutions where more than one task is assigned to each agent -- for domains with intra-path constraints. While a number of approaches have employed time-extended coordination for domains with independent tasks, few approaches have used time-extended coordination in domains where agents'schedules are interdependent at the path planning level. Our first approach uses tiered auctions and two heuristic techniques, clustering and opportunistic path planning, to perform a bounded search of possible time-extended schedules and allocations. Our second method uses a centralized, non-heuristic, genetic algorithm-based approach that provides higher quality solutions but at substantially greater computational cost. We compare our time-extended approaches with a range of single task allocation approaches in a simulated disaster response domain.

Keywords
multi-robot coordination, scheduling, path-planning

Notes
Sponsor: U.S. Army Research Laboratory
Associated Center(s) / Consortia: Vision and Autonomous Systems Center and Field Robotics Center
Associated Lab(s) / Group(s): rCommerce
Associated Project(s): CTA Robotics

Text Reference
Edward Jones, M Bernardine Dias, and Anthony (Tony) Stentz, "Time-extended Multi-robot Coordination for Domains with Intra-path constraints," Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS), July, 2009.

BibTeX Reference
@inproceedings{Jones_2009_6416,
   author = "Edward Jones and M Bernardine Dias and Anthony (Tony) Stentz",
   title = "Time-extended Multi-robot Coordination for Domains with Intra-path constraints",
   booktitle = "Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS)",
   month = "July",
   year = "2009",
}