Mobility-Aware Ad Hoc Routing Protocols for Networking Mobile Robot Teams

  • Das, Saumitra M. (School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University) ;
  • Hu, Y. Charlie (School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University) ;
  • Lee, C.S. George (School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University) ;
  • Lu, Yung-Hsiang (School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University)
  • Published : 2007.09.30

Abstract

Mobile multi-robot teams are useful in many critical applications such as search and rescue. Explicit communication among robots in such mobile multi-robot teams is useful for the coordination of such teams as well as exchanging data. Since many applications for mobile robots involve scenarios in which communication infrastructure may be damaged or unavailable, mobile robot teams frequently need to communicate with each other via ad hoc networking. In such scenarios, low-overhead and energy-efficient routing protocols for delivering messages among robots are a key requirement. Two important primitives for communication are essential for enabling a wide variety of mobile robot applications. First, unicast communication (between two robots) needs to be provided to enable coordination and data exchange. Second, in many applications, group communication is required for flexible control, organization, and management of the mobile robots. Multicast provides a bandwidth-efficient communication method between a source and a group of robots. In this paper, we first propose and evaluate two unicast routing protocols tailored for use in ad hoc networks formed by mobile multi-robot teams: Mobile robot distance vector (MRDV) and mobile robot source routing (MRSR). Both protocols exploit the unique mobility characteristics of mobile robot networks to perform efficient routing. Our simulation study show that both MRDV and MRSR incur lower overhead while operating in mobile robot networks when compared to traditional mobile ad hoc network routing protocols such as DSR and AODV. We then propose and evaluate an efficient multicast protocol mobile robot mesh multicast (MRMM) for deployment in mobile robot networks. MRMM exploits the fact that mobile robots know what velocity they are instructed to move at and for what distance in building a long lifetime sparse mesh for group communication that is more efficient. Our results show that MRMM provides an efficient group communication mechanism that can potentially be used in many mobile robot application scenarios.

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