A computer program automatically generates plans for a group of robotic vehicles (rovers) engaged in geological exploration of terrain. The program rapidly generates multiple command sequences that can be executed simultaneously by the rovers. Starting from a set of high-level goals, the program creates a sequence of commands for each rover while respecting hardware constraints and limitations on resources of each rover and of hardware (e.g., a radio communication terminal) shared by all the rovers. First, a separate model of each rover is loaded into a centralized planning subprogram. The centralized planning software uses the models of the rovers plus an iterative repair algorithm to resolve conflicts posed by demands for resources and by constraints associated with the all the rovers and the shared hardware. During repair, heuristics are used to make planning decisions that will result in solutions that will be better and will be found faster than would otherwise be possible. In particular, techniques from prior solutions of the multiple-traveling-salesmen problem are used as heuristics to generate plans in which the paths taken by the rovers to assigned scientific targets are shorter than they would otherwise be.

This program was written by Tara Estlin, Gregg Rabideau, Steve Chien, and Anthony Barrett of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Software category.

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (818) 393-2827. Refer to NPO-35192.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Centralized Planning for Multiple Exploratory Robots

(reference NPO-35192) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the May, 2005 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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