On Fast Exploration in 2D and 3D Terrains with Multiple Robots

Rahul Sawhney    K. Madhava Krishna    Kannan Srinathan   

IIIT Hyderabad, India   

We present a fast multi-robotic exploration methodology for 2D and 3D terrains. An asynchronous exploration strategy is introduced which shows significant improvements over the existing synchronous ones. A per-time visibility metric is being utilized by the algorithm. The metric allots the same weight for points for next view whose visibility over time ratios are equal. The outcome of this is that while the number of points visited to explore a terrain is nearly the same as other popular metrics found in literature, the time length of the paths are smaller in this case resulting in reduced time exploration. The results have been verified through extensive simulations in 2D and 3D. In 2D multiple robots explore unknown terrains that are office like, cluttered, corridor like and various combinations of these. In 3D we consider the case of multiple UAVs exploring a terrain represented as height fields. We introduce a way for calculating expected visibilities and a way of incorporating explored features in the per-time metric. The maximum height of the UAV at each location is governed by the so called exposure surface, beneath which the UAVs are constrained to fly. We also show performance gain of the present metric over others in experiments on a Pioneer 3DX robot.