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Multi-robot coverage path planning using hexagonal segmentation for geophysical surveys

  • Héctor Azpúrua (a1) (a2), Gustavo M. Freitas (a2), Douglas G. Macharet (a1) and Mario F. M. Campos (a1)

The field of robotics has received significant attention in our society due to the extensive use of robotic manipulators; however, recent advances in the research on autonomous vehicles have demonstrated a broader range of applications, such as exploration, surveillance, and environmental monitoring. In this sense, the problem of efficiently building a model of the environment using cooperative mobile robots is critical. Finding routes that are either length or time-optimized is essential for real-world applications of small autonomous robots. This paper addresses the problem of multi-robot area coverage path planning for geophysical surveys. Such surveys have many applications in mineral exploration, geology, archeology, and oceanography, among other fields. We propose a methodology that segments the environment into hexagonal cells and allocates groups of robots to different clusters of non-obstructed cells to acquire data. Cells can be covered by lawnmower, square or centroid patterns with specific configurations to address the constraints of magneto-metric surveys. Several trials were executed in a simulated environment, and a statistical investigation of the results is provided. We also report the results of experiments that were performed with real Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in an outdoor setting.

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