Distributed pursuit-evasion without mapping or global localization via local frontiers

Joseph W. Durham, Antonio Franchi*, Francesco Bullo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses a visibility-based pursuit-evasion problem in which a team of mobile robots with limited sensing and communication capabilities must coordinate to detect any evaders in an unknown, multiply-connected planar environment. Our distributed algorithm to guarantee evader detection is built around maintaining complete coverage of the frontier between cleared and contaminated regions while expanding the cleared region. We detail a novel distributed method for storing and updating this frontier without building a map of the environment or requiring global localization. We demonstrate the functionality of the algorithm through simulations in realistic environments and through hardware experiments. We also compare Monte Carlo results for our algorithm to the theoretical optimum area cleared as a function of the number of robots available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-95
Number of pages15
JournalAutonomous Robots
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Clearing
  • Cooperative robotics
  • Distributed algorithms
  • Monitoring
  • Multi-robot coverage
  • Pursuit-evasion
  • Surveillance


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