Dubins tours represent a solution of the Dubins Traveling Salesman Problem (DTSP) that is a variant of the optimization routing problem to determine a curvature-constrained shortest path to visit a set of locations such that the path is feasible for Dubins vehicle, which moves only forward and has a limited turning radius. The DTSP combines the NP-hard combinatorial optimization to determine the optimal sequence of visits to the locations, as in the regular TSP, with the continuous optimization of the heading angles at the locations, where the optimal heading values depend on the sequence of visits and vice versa. We address the computationally challenging DTSP by fast evaluation of the sequence of visits by the proposed Windowing Surrogate Model (WiSM) which estimates the length of the optimal Dubins path connecting a sequence of locations in a Dubins tour. The estimation is sped up by a regression model trained using close to optimum solutions of small Dubins tours that are generalized for large-scale instances of the addressed DTSP utilizing the sliding window technique and a cache for already computed results. The reported results support that the proposed WiSM enables a fast convergence of a relatively simple evolutionary algorithm to high-quality solutions of the DTSP. We show that with an increasing number of locations, our algorithm scales significantly better than other state-of-the-art DTSP solvers.
Search And Tracking (SAT) is the problem of searching for a mobile target and tracking it after it is found. As this problem has important applications in search-and-rescue and surveillance operations, recently there has been increasing interest in equipping unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with autonomous SAT capabilities. State-of-the-art approaches to SAT rely on estimating the probability density function of the target's state and solving the search control problem in a greedy fashion over a short planning horizon (typically, a one-step lookahead). These techniques suffer high computational cost, making them unsuitable for complex problems. In this paper, we propose a novel approach to SAT, which allows us to handle big geographical areas, complex target motion models and long-term operations. Our solution is to track the target reactively while it is in view and to plan a recovery strategy that relocates the target every time it is lost, using a high-performing automated planning tool. The planning problem consists of deciding where to search and which search patterns to use in order to maximise the likelihood of recovering the target. We show experimental results demonstrating the potential of our approach.
Observation planning for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is a challenging task as it requires planning trajectories over a large continuous space and with motion models that can not be directly encoded into current planners. Furthermore, realistic problems often require complex objective functions that complicate problem decomposition. In this paper, we propose a local search approach to plan the trajectories of a fleet of UAVs on an observation mission. The strength of the approach lies in its loose coupling with domain specific requirements such as the UAV model or the objective function that are both used as black boxes. Furthermore, the Variable Neighborhood Search (VNS) procedure considered facilitates the adaptation of the algorithm to specific requirements through the addition of new neighborhoods. We demonstrate the feasibility and convenience of the method on a large joint observation task in which a fleet of fixed-wing UAVs maps wildfires over areas of a hundred square kilometers. The approach allows generating plans over tens of minutes for a handful of UAVs in matter of seconds, even when considering very short primitive maneuvers.
In large scale coverage operations, such as marine exploration or aerial monitoring, single robot approaches are not ideal, as they may take too long to cover a large area. In such scenarios, multi-robot approaches are preferable. Furthermore, several real world vehicles are non-holonomic, but can be modeled using Dubins vehicle kinematics. This paper focuses on environmental monitoring of aquatic environments using Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASVs). In particular, we propose a novel approach for solving the problem of complete coverage of a known environment by a multi-robot team consisting of Dubins vehicles. It is worth noting that both multi-robot coverage and Dubins vehicle coverage are NP-complete problems. As such, we present two heuristics methods based on a variant of the traveling salesman problem -- k-TSP -- formulation and clustering algorithms that efficiently solve the problem. The proposed methods are tested both in simulations to assess their scalability and with a team of ASVs operating on a lake to ensure their applicability in real world.
Teams of autonomous unmanned aircraft can be used to monitor wildfires, enabling firefighters to make informed decisions. However, controlling multiple autonomous fixed-wing aircraft to maximize forest fire coverage is a complex problem. The state space is high dimensional, the fire propagates stochastically, the sensor information is imperfect, and the aircraft must coordinate with each other to accomplish their mission. This work presents two deep reinforcement learning approaches for training decentralized controllers that accommodate the high dimensionality and uncertainty inherent in the problem. The first approach controls the aircraft using immediate observations of the individual aircraft. The second approach allows aircraft to collaborate on a map of the wildfire's state and maintain a time history of locations visited, which are used as inputs to the controller. Simulation results show that both approaches allow the aircraft to accurately track wildfire expansions and outperform an online receding horizon controller. Additional simulations demonstrate that the approach scales with different numbers of aircraft and generalizes to different wildfire shapes.