Opportunistic communication schemes for unmanned vehicles in urban search and rescue
2010-11-19T14:44:25Z (GMT) by
In urban search and rescue (USAR) operations, there is a considerable amount of danger faced by rescuers. The use of mobile robots can alleviate this issue. Coordinating the search effort is made more difficult by the communication issues typically faced in these environments, such that communication is often restricted. With small numbers of robots, it is necessary to break communication links in order to explore the entire environment. The robots can be viewed as a broken ad hoc network, relying on opportunistic contact in order to share data. In order to minimise overheads when exchanging data, a novel algorithm for data exchange has been created which maintains the propagation speed of flooding while reducing overheads. Since the rescue workers outside of the structure need to know the location of any victims, the task of finding their locations is two parted: 1) to locate the victims (Search Time), and 2) to get this data outside the structure (Delay Time). Communication with the outside is assumed to be performed by a static robot designated as the Command Station. Since it is unlikely that there will be sufficient robots to provide full communications coverage of the area, robots that discover victims are faced with the difficult decision of whether they should continue searching or return with the victim data. We investigate a variety of search techniques and see how the application of biological foraging models can help to streamline the search process, while we have also implemented an opportunistic network to ensure that data are shared whenever robots come within line of sight of each other or the Command Station. We examine this trade-off between performing a search and communicating the results.