Multi-robot path planning for robot swarms that can both fly and drive

The multi-robot path planning problem has been extensively studied for the cases of flying and driving vehicles. However, path planning for the case of vehicles that can both fly and drive has not yet been considered.

Driving robots, while stable and energy efficient, are limited to mostly flat terrain. Quadcopters, on the other hand, are agile and highly mobile but have low energy efficiency and limited battery life.

Combining a quadcopter with a driving mechanism presents a path planning challenge by enabling the selection of paths based off of both time and energy consumption.

We've developed a framework for multi-robot path planning for a swarm of flying-and-driving vehicles. By putting a lightweight driving platform on a quadcopter, we create a robust vehicle with an energy efficient driving mode and an agile flight mode.

We extend two algorithms, priority planning with Safe Interval Path Planning and a multi-commodity network flow ILP, to accommodate multimodal locomotion, and we show that these algorithms can indeed plan collision-free paths for flying-and-driving vehicles on 3D graphs.

Finally, we demonstrate that our system is able to plan paths and control the motions of 8 of our vehicles in a miniature town.