A Multi-robot Coverage Approach Based on Stigmergic Communication
Recent years have witnessed a rapidly growing interest in using teams of mobile robots for autonomously covering environments. In this paper a novel approach for multi-robot coverage is described which is based on the principle of pheromone-based communication. According to this approach, called StiCo (for “Stigmergic Coverage”), the robots communicate indirectly via depositing/detecting markers in the environment to be covered. Although the movement policies of each robot are very simple, complex and efficient coverage behavior is achieved at the team level. StiCo shows several desirable features such as robustness, scalability and functional extensibility. Two extensions are described, including A-StiCo for dealing with dynamic environments and ID-StiCo for handling intruder detection. These features make StiCo an interesting alternative to graph-based multi-robot coverage approaches which currently are dominant in the field. Moreover, because of these features StiCo has a broad application potential. Simulation results are shown which clearly demonstrate the strong coverage abilities of StiCo in different environmental settings.
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