Autonomous Robots

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 1207–1230 | Cite as

Competitive target search with multi-agent teams: symmetric and asymmetric communication constraints

  • Michael Otte
  • Michael Kuhlman
  • Donald Sofge


We study a search game in which two multi-agent teams compete to find a stationary target at an unknown location. Each team plays a mixed strategy over the set of search sweep-patterns allowed from its respective random starting locations. Assuming that communication enables cooperation we find closed-form expressions for the probability of winning the game as a function of team sizes and the existence or absence of communication within each team. Assuming the target is distributed uniformly at random, an optimal mixed strategy equalizes the expected first-visit time to all points within the search space. The benefits of communication enabled cooperation increase with team size. Simulations and experiments agree well with analytical results.


Multi-agent system Competitive search Search and rescue Search game 



We would like to thank Colin Ward, Corbin Wilhelmi, and Cyrus Vorwald for their help in facilitating the mixed platform experiments.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S. Naval Research LaboratoryWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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