Distributed Path Planning for Collective Transport Using Homogeneous Multi-robot Systems

  • Golnaz HabibiEmail author
  • William Xie
  • Mathew Jellins
  • James McLurkin
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics book series (STAR, volume 112)


We present a scalable distributed path planning algorithm for transporting a large object through an unknown environment using a group of homogeneous robots. The robots are randomly scattered across the terrain and collectively sample the obstacles in the environment in a distributed fashion. Given this sampling and the dimensions of the bounding box of the object, the robots construct a distributed configuration space. We then use a variant of the distributed Bellman-Ford algorithm to construct a shortest-path tree using a custom cost function from the goal location to all other connected robots. The cost function encompasses the work required to rotate and translate the object in addition to an extra control penalty to navigate close to obstacles. Our approach sets up a framework that allows the user to balance the trade-off between the safety of the path and the mechanical work required to move the object. The path is optimal given the sampling of the robots and user input parameters. We implemented our algorithm in both simulated and real-world environments. Our approach is robust to the size and shape of the object and adapts to dynamic environments.


Path planning Distributed algorithm Distributed bellman-ford algorithm Multi-robot system Collective transport 



The authors would like to thank Zachary Kingston for his tremendous help in running experiments on real robots. This work has been supported by National Science Foundation, Division of Computer and Network Systems under CNS-1330085.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Golnaz Habibi
    • 1
    Email author
  • William Xie
    • 2
  • Mathew Jellins
    • 3
  • James McLurkin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceRice UniversityHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  3. 3.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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