Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 1–36 | Cite as

Hierarchical visibility for guaranteed search in large-scale outdoor terrain

  • A. Kleiner
  • A. Kolling
  • M. Lewis
  • K. Sycara


Searching for moving targets in large environments is a challenging task that is relevant in several problem domains, such as capturing an invader in a camp, guarding security facilities, and searching for victims in large-scale search and rescue scenarios. The guaranteed search problem is to coordinate the search of a team of agents to guarantee the discovery of all targets. In this paper we present a self-contained solution to this problem in 2.5D real-world domains represented by digital elevation models (DEMs). We introduce hierarchical sampling on DEMs for selecting heuristically the close to minimal set of locations from which the entire surface of the DEM can be guarded. Locations are utilized to form a search graph on which search strategies for mobile agents are computed. For these strategies schedules are derived which include agent paths that are directly executable in the terrain. Presented experimental results demonstrate the performance of the method. The practical feasibility of our approach has been validated during a field experiment at the Gascola robot training site where teams of humans equipped with iPads successfully searched for adversarial and omniscient evaders. The field demonstration is the largest-scale implementation of a guaranteed search algorithm to date.


Guaranteed search Pursuit-evasion Exploration Task allocation Path planning Moving target search Human–robot-interaction HRI 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Science DepartmentUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.School of Information SciencesUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Robotics InstituteCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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