|InterJournal Complex Systems, 1898
|Manuscript Number: |
Submission Date: 2006
|Distributed resource exploitation for autonomous mobile sensor agents in dynamic environments|
This paper studies the distributed resource exploitation problem (DREP) where many resources distributed are across an unknown environment, and several agents move around in it with the goal to exploit/visit the resources. A resource may be anything that can be harvested/sensed/acted upon by an agent when the agent visits that resource's physical location. An agent is mobile and autonomous sensory entity (SA) that has the capability of sensing a resource's attribute and therefore determining the exploitatory gain factor or profitability when this resource is visited. This type of problem can be seen as a combination of two well-known problems: the Dynamic Travelling Salesman Problem (DTSP) and the Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP). But the DREP differs in a principal way from these two as we consider the environment and the resources to be dynamic. In the DTSP we have a single agent that needs to visit many fixed cities that have costs associated to their pairwise links, so it is an optimization of paths on a static graph. In VRP on the other hand, we have a number of vehicles with uniform capacity, a common depot, and several stationary customers scattered around an environment, so the goal is to find the set of routes with overall minimum route cost to service all the customers. In our problem, we have multiple SAs deployed in an unknown environment with multiple dynamic resources each with a dynamically varying value. The goal of the SAs is to adapt their paths collaboratively to the dynamics of the resources in order to maximize the general profitability of the system. Applications of this nature range from exploratory missions such as those of rovers on planets to surveillance, monitoring, resupply and survival in hazardous environments.
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