W. Burgard, M. Moors, D. Fox, R. Simmons, and S. Thrun

Collaborative Multi-Robot Exploration

Proc. of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics & Automation (ICRA), 2000.


In this paper we consider the problem of exploring an unknown environment by a team of robots. As in single-robot exploration the goal is to minimize the overall exploration time. The key problem to be solved therefore is to choose appropriate target points for the individual robots so that they simultaneously explore different regions of their environment. We present a probabilistic approach for the coordination of multiple robots which, in contrast to previous approaches, simultaneously takes into account the costs of reaching a target point and the utility of target points. The utility of target points is given by the size of the unexplored area that a robot can cover with its sensors upon reaching a target position. Whenever a target point is assigned to a specific robot, the utility of the unexplored area visible from this target position is reduced for the other robots. This way, a team of multiple robots assigns different target points to the individual robots. The technique has been implemented and tested extensively in real-world experiments and simulation runs. The results given in this paper demonstrate that our coordination technique significantly reduces the exploration time compared to previous approaches.


Full paper [.ps.gz] (810 kb, 6 pages)


  AUTHOR            = {Burgard, W. and Moors, M. and Fox, D. and Simmons, R. and Thrun, S.},
  TITLE                  = {Collaborative Multi-Robot Exploration},
  YEAR                   = {2000},
  BOOKTITLE     = {Proc.~of IEEE International Conference on Robotics & Automation (ICRA)}