Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Dr. Prithviraj(Raj) Dasgupta

Second Advisor

Dr. Qiuming Zhu

Third Advisor

Dr. Zhengxin Chen

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Zhenyuan Wang


The problem of distributed area coverage using multiple mobile robots is an important problem in distributed multi-robot sytems. Multi-robot coverage is encountered in many real world applications, including unmanned search & rescue, aerial reconnaissance, robotic demining, inspection of engineering structures, and automatic lawn mowing. To achieve optimal coverage, robots should move in an efficient manner and reduce repeated coverage of the same region that optimizes a certain performance metric such as the amount of time or energy expended by the robots. This dissertation especially focuses on using mini-robots with limited capabilities, such as low speed of the CPU and limited storage of the memory, to fulfill the efficient area coverage task. Previous research on distributed area coverage use offline or online path planning algorithms to address this problem. Some of the existing approaches use behavior-based algorithms where each robot implements simple rules and the interaction between robots manifests in the global objective of overall coverage of the environment. Our work extends this line of research using an emergent, swarming based technique where robots use partial coverage histories from themselves as well as other robots in their vicinity to make local decisions that attempt to ensure overall efficient area coverage. We have then extended this technique in two directions. First, we have integreated the individual-robot, swarming-based technique for area coverage to teams of robots that move in formation to perform area coverage more efficiently than robots that move individually. Then we have used a team formation technique from coalition game theory, called Weighted Voting Game (WVG) to handle situations where a team moving in formation while performing area coverage has to dynamically reconfigure into sub-teams or merge with other teams, to continue the area coverage efficiently. We have validated our techniques by testing them on accurate models of e-puck robots in the Webots robot simulation platform, as well as on physical e-puck robots.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska at Omaha In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Copyright 2011 Ke Cheng.

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