Asynchronous Network Formation in Unknown Unbounded Environments

Date of Submission: 
September 17, 2018
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In this paper, we study the Online Network Formation Problem (ONFP) for a mobile multi-robot system. Consider a group of robots with a bounded communication range operating in a large open area. One of the robots has a piece of information which has to be propagated to all other robots. What strategy should the robots pursue to disseminate the information to the rest of the robots as quickly as possible?
The initial locations of the robots are unknown to each other, therefore the problem must be solved in an online fashion.

For this problem, we present an algorithm whose competitive ratio is $O(H \cdot \max\{M,\sqrt{M H}\})$ for arbitrary robot deployments, where $M$ is the largest edge length in the Euclidean minimum spanning tree on the initial robot configuration and $H$ is the height of the tree.
We also study the case when the robot initial positions are chosen uniformly at random and improve the ratio to $O(M)$.
Finally, we present simulation results to validate the performance in larger scales and demonstrate our algorithm using three robots in a field experiment.