Journal article

Multi-robot olfactory search in structured environments

This paper presents a cooperative distributed approach for searching odor sources in unknown structured environments with multiple mobile robots. While searching and exploring the environment, the robots independently generate on-line local topological maps and by sharing them with each other they construct a global map. The proposed method is a decentralized frontier based algorithm enhanced by a cost/utility evaluation function that considers the odor concentration and airflow at each frontier. Therefore, frontiers with higher probability of containing an odor source will be searched and explored first. The method also improves path planning of the robots for the exploration process by presenting a priority policy. Since there is no global positioning system and each robot has its own coordinate reference system for its localization, this paper uses topological graph matching techniques for map merging. The proposed method was tested in both simulation and real world environments with different number of robots and different scenarios. The search time, exploration time, complexity of the environment and number of double-visited map nodes were investigated in the tests. The experimental results validate the functionality of the method in different configurations.

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