Deakin University

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Placing sensors for area coverage in a complex environment by a team of robots

journal contribution
posted on 2014-08-01, 00:00 authored by X Li, G Fletcher, A Nayak, Ivan Stojmenovic
Existing solutions to carrier-based sensor placement by a single robot in a bounded unknown Region of Interest (ROI) do not guarantee full area coverage or termination. We propose a novel localized algorithm, named Back-Tracking Deployment (BTD). To construct a full coverage solution over the ROI, mobile robots (carriers) carry static sensors as payloads and drop them at the visited empty vertices of a virtual square, triangular, or hexagonal grid. A single robot will move in a predefined order of directional preference until a dead end is reached. Then it back-tracks to the nearest sensor adjacent to an empty vertex (an "entrance" to an unexplored/uncovered area) and resumes regular forward movement and sensor dropping from there. To save movement steps, the back-tracking is carried out along a locally identified shortcut. We extend the algorithm to support multiple robots that move independently and asynchronously. Once a robot reaches a dead end, it will back-track, giving preference to its own path. Otherwise, it will take over the back-track path of another robot by consulting with neighboring sensors. We prove that BTD terminates within finite time and produces full coverage when no (sensor or robot) failures occur. We also describe an approach to tolerate failures and an approach to balance workload among robots. We then evaluate BTD in comparison with the only competing algorithms SLD [Chang et al. 2009a] and LRV [Batalin and Sukhatme 2004] through simulation. In a specific failure-free scenario, SLD covers only 40-50% of the ROI, whereas BTD covers it in full. BTD involves significantly (80%) less robot moves and messages than LRV.



ACM transactions on sensor networks





Article number



1 - 22


Association for Computing Machinery


New York, N.Y.







Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2014, Association for Computing Machinery