Progress toward multi-robot reconnaissance and the MAGIC 2010 competition
Journal of Field Robotics
Tasks like search-and-rescue and urban reconnaissance benefit from large numbers of robots working together, but high levels of autonomy are needed to reduce operator requirements to practical levels. Reducing the reliance of such systems on human operators presents a number of technical challenges, including automatic task allocation, global state and map estimation, robot perception, path planning, communications, and humanrobot interfaces. This paper describes our 14-robot team, which won
... MAGIC 2010 competition. It was designed to perform urban reconnaissance missions. In the paper, we describe a variety of autonomous systems that require minimal human effort to control a large number of autonomously exploring robots. Maintaining a consistent global map, which is essential for autonomous planning and for giving humans situational awareness, required the development of fast loop-closing, map optimization, and communications algorithms. Key to our approach was a decoupled centralized planning architecture that allowed individual robots to execute tasks myopically, but whose behavior was coordinated centrally. We will describe technical contributions throughout our system that played a significant role in its performance. We will also present results from our system both from the competition and from subsequent quantitative evaluations, pointing out areas in which the system performed well and where interesting research problems remain. C 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.