Faculty Advisor

Dr. Eugene Eberbach

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Carlo Pinciroli

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Alexander Wyglinski


Robot swarms are envisioned in applications such as surveillance, agriculture, search-and-rescue operations, and construction. The decentralized nature of swarm intelligence has three key advantages over traditional multi-robot control algorithms: it is scalable, it is fault tolerant, and it is not susceptible to a single point of failure. These advantages are critical to the task of persistent surveillance - where a number of target locations need to be visited as frequently as possible. Unfortunately, in the real world, the autonomous robots that can be used for persistent surveillance have a limited battery life (or fuel capacity). Thus, they need to abandon their surveillance duties to visit a battery swapping station (or refueling depot) a.k.a. €˜depots€™. This €˜down time€™ reduces the frequency of visitation. This problem can be eliminated if the depots themselves were autonomous vehicles that could meet the (surveillance) robots at some point along their path from one target to another. Thus, the robots would spend less time on the 'charging' (or refueling) task. In this thesis we present decentralized control algorithms, and their results, for three stages of the persistent surveillance problem. First, we consider the case where the robots have no energy constraints, and use a decentralized approach to allow the robots choose the €˜best€™ target that they should visit next. While the selection process is decentralized, the robots can communicate with all the other robots in the swarm, and let them know which is their chosen target. We then consider the energy constraints of the robots, and slightly modify the algorithm, so that the robots visit a depot before they run out of energy. Lastly, we consider the case where the depots themselves can move, and communicate with the robots to pick a location and time to meet, to be able to swap the empty battery of a robot, with a fresh one. The goal of persistent surveillance is to visit target locations as frequently as possible, and thus, the performance measurement parameter is chosen to be the median frequency of visitation for all target locations. We evaluate the performance of the three algorithms in an extensive set of simulated experiments.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Robotics Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Energy awarenesses, Persistent Surveillance, Robot Swarms