Multi-Agent Ergodic Coverage in Urban Environments


An important aspect of dynamic urban coverage is how building collision avoidance is incorporated into the overall coverage mission. We consider a multi-agent urban dynamic coverage problem in which a team of flying agents uses downward facing cameras to observe the street-level environment outside of buildings. Cameras are assumed to be ineffective above a maximum altitude (lower than building height), such that agents must move around or over buildings to complete their mission. The main objective of this paper is to compare three different building avoidance strategies that are compatible with dynamic ergodic methods. To provide context for these results, we also compare our results to three other common coverage methods including: boustrophedon coverage (lawn-mower sweep), Voronoi region based coverage, and a naive grid method. All algorithms are evaluated in simulation with respect to four performance metrics (percent coverage, revisit count, revisit time, and the integral of area viewed over time), across team sizes ranging from 1 to 25 agents, and in five types of urban environments of varying density and height. We find that the relative performance of algorithms changes based on the ratio of team size to search area, as well the height and density characteristics of the urban environment.

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2021