Voronoi-Based Multi-Robot Autonomous Exploration in Unknown Environments via Deep Reinforcement Learning

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Autonomous exploration is an important application of multi-vehicle systems, where a team of networked robots are coordinated to explore an unknown environment collaboratively. This technique has earned significant research interest due to its usefulness in search and rescue, fault detection and monitoring, localization and mapping, etc. In this paper, a novel cooperative exploration strategy is proposed for multiple mobile robots, which reduces the overall task completion time and energy costs compared to conventional methods. To efficiently navigate the networked robots during the collaborative tasks, a hierarchical control architecture is designed which contains a high-level decision making layer and a low-level target tracking layer. The proposed cooperative exploration approach is developed using dynamic Voronoi partitions, which minimizes duplicated exploration areas by assigning different target locations to individual robots. To deal with sudden obstacles in the unknown environment, an integrated deep reinforcement learning based collision avoidance algorithm is then proposed, which enables the control policy to learn from human demonstration data and thus improve the learning speed and performance. Finally, simulation and experimental results are provided to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed scheme.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology
Early online date29 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Oct 2020