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Electronics 2016, 5(3), 34; doi:10.3390/electronics5030034

Multi-Robot Deployment Using a Virtual Force Approach: Challenges and Guidelines

Computer Engineering Department, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Mostafa Bassiouni
Received: 30 January 2016 / Revised: 10 May 2016 / Accepted: 17 June 2016 / Published: 29 June 2016
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Robotics networks are an emerging technology that has a wide range of applications. Robots are used for many military and civilian applications. Applications such as search-and-rescue operations or area monitoring during an environmental disaster, cannot be effectively carried out by a single robot, but rather are carried out by several robots forming what is called a “robotic network”. In rescue operations, for example, robots can be used to help to discover bodies under the rubble or even to assist the injured. One of the main challenges in these applications is how to deploy the robots without central coordination. Virtual force (VF) technique appears to be one of the prominent approaches to perform multi-robot deployment autonomously. However, the effectiveness of this approach depends on how its parameters are calibrated in order to achieve the required deployment. There are two important factors: attractive force ( w a ) and repulsive force ( w r ). In this work, we investigate the best settings of these two factors in order to accommodate different kinds of scenarios. Additionally, and for the first time, an energy-aware virtual force approach is proposed to balance energy consumption among deployed robots and consequently maximize the network lifetime. Extensive simulation experiments are conducted to study and explore the effectiveness of the proposed settings. Finally, a proof of concept experiment using LegoTM Mindstorm robots is carried out to demonstrate the effectiveness of these settings. View Full-Text
Keywords: virtual force; attractive force; repulsive force; calibrating virtual force parameters; energy-aware virtual force virtual force; attractive force; repulsive force; calibrating virtual force parameters; energy-aware virtual force

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Sallam, G.; Baroudi, U.; Al-Shaboti, M. Multi-Robot Deployment Using a Virtual Force Approach: Challenges and Guidelines. Electronics 2016, 5, 34.

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