Distributed Robotic Mapping of Extreme Environments
S. Thayer, B. Digney, M.B. Dias, A. Stentz, B. Nabbe, and M. Hebert.
Proceedings of SPIE: Mobile Robots XV and Telemanipulator and Telepresence Technologies VII, Vol. 4195, November, 2000.


In the extreme environments posed by war fighting, fire fighting, and nuclear accident response, the cost of direct human exposure is levied in terms of injury and death. Robotic alternatives must address effective operations while removing humans from danger. This is profoundly challenging, as extreme environments inflict cumulative performance damage on exposed robotic agents. Sensing and perception are among the most vulnerable components. We present a distributed robotic system that enables autonomous reconnaissance and mapping in urban structures using teams of robots. Robot teams scout remote sites, maintain operational tempos, and successfully execute tasks, principally the construction of 3-D Maps, despite multiple agent failures. Using an economic model of agent interaction based on a free market architecture, a virtual platform (a robot colony) is synthesized where task execution does not directly depend on individual agents within the colony.

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