Swarm Robotic Plume Tracking for Intermittent and Time-Variant Odor Dispersion
This paper presents a method for odor plume tracking by a swarm of robots in realistic conditions. In real world environments, the chemical concentration within an odor plume is patchy, intermittent and time-variant. This study shows that swarm robots can cooperatively track the odor plume towards its source by establishing a cohesive spatial sensor network to deal with the turbulences and patchy nature of odor plumes. The robots move together and maintain a distance margin between themselves in order to keep the cohesion of the constructed sensor network while the odor concentration and air-flow speed are considered in the equations of navigation of the robots in the network to more efficiently track the plume. The method is evaluated in simulation against various number of robots, the emission rate of the odor source, the number of obstacles in the environment and the size of the testing environment. The emergent behavior of the swarm proves the functionality, robustness and scalability of the system in different conditions.