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Multi-robot System in Coverage Control: Deployment, Coverage, and Rendezvous

posted on 04.05.2020 by Shaocheng Luo
Multi-robot systems have demonstrated strong capability in handling environmental operations. In this study, We examine how a team of robots can be utilized in covering and removing spill patches in a dynamic environment by executing three consecutive stages: deployment, coverage, and rendezvous.
For the deployment problem, we aim for robot allocation based on the discreteness of the patches that need to be covered. With the deep neural network (DNN) based spill detector and remote sensing facilities such as drones with vision sensors and satellites, we are able to obtain the spill distribution in the workspace. Then, we formulate the allocation problem in a general optimization form and provide solutions using an integer linear programming (ILP) solver under several realistic constraints. After the allocation process is completed and the robot team is divided according to the number of spills, we deploy robots to their computed optimal goal positions. In the robot deployment part, control laws based on artificial potential field (APF) method are proposed and practiced on robots with a common unicycle model.
For the coverage control problem, we show two strategies that are tailored for a wirelessly networked robot team. We propose strategies for coverage with and without path planning, depending on the availability of global information. Specifically, in terms of coverage with path planning, we partition the workspace from the aerial image into pieces and let each robot take care of one of the pieces. However, path-planning-based coverage relies on GPS signals or other external positioning systems, which are not applicable for indoor or GPS-denied circumstances. Therefore, we propose an asymptotic boundary shrink control that enables a collective coverage operation with the robot team. Such a strategy does not require a planned path, and because of its distributedness, it shows many advantages, including system scalability, dynamic spill adaptability, and collision avoidance. In case of a large-scale patch that poses challenges to robot connectivity maintenance during the operation, we propose a pivot-robot coverage strategy by mean of an a priori geometric tessellation (GT). In the pivot-robot-based coverage strategy, a team of robots is sent to perform complete coverage to every packing area of GT in sequence. Ultimately, the entire spill in the workspace can be covered and removed.
For the rendezvous problem, we investigate the use of graph theory and propose control strategies based on network topology to motivate robots to meet at a designated or the optimal location. The rendezvous control strategies show a strong robustness to some common failures, such as mobility failure and communication failure. To expedite the rendezvous process and enable herding control in a distributed way, we propose a multi-robot multi-point rendezvous control strategy.
To verify the validity of the proposed strategies, we carry out simulations in the Robotarium MATLAB platform, which is an open source swarm robotics experiment testbed, and conduct real experiments involving multiple mobile robots.


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Computer and Information Technology

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Byung-Cheol Min

Additional Committee Member 2

James Eric Dietz

Additional Committee Member 3

Shreyas Sundaram

Additional Committee Member 4

Xiumin Diao