Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems

, Volume 82, Issue 2, pp 325–337 | Cite as

Collaboration in Multi-Robot Exploration: To Meet or not to Meet?

  • Torsten Andre
  • Christian Bettstetter
Open Access


Work on coordinated multi-robot exploration often assumes that all areas to be explored are freely accessible. This common assumption does not always hold, especially not in search and rescue missions after a disaster. Doors may be closed or paths blocked detaining robots from continuing their exploration beyond these points and possibly requiring multiple robots to clear them. This paper addresses the issue how to coordinate a multi-robot system to clear blocked paths. We define local collaborations that require robots to collaboratively perform a physical action at a common position. A collaborating robot needs to interrupt its current exploration and move to a different location to collaboratively clear a blocked path. We raise the question when to collaborate and whom to collaborate with. We propose four strategies as to when to collaborate. Two obvious strategies are to collaborate immediately or to postpone any collaborations until only blocked paths are left. The other two strategies make use of heuristics based on building patterns. While no single strategy behaves optimal in all scenarios, we show that the heuristics decrease the time required to explore unknown environments considering blocked paths.


Collaboration Robot exploration Mobile robot teams Indoor exploration Multi-robot systems Autonomous systems 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Networked and Embedded SystemsAlpen- Adria-Universität KlagenfurtKlagenfurtAustria
  2. 2.Lakeside Labs GmbHKlagenfurtAustria

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