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Abstract:Multi-Agent Combinatorial Path Finding (MCPF) seeks collision-free paths for multiple agents from their initial to goal locations, while visiting a set of intermediate target locations in the middle of the paths. MCPF is challenging as it involves both planning collision-free paths for multiple agents and target sequencing, i.e., solving traveling salesman problems to assign targets to and find the visiting order for the agents. Recent work develops methods to address MCPF while minimizing the sum of individual arrival times at goals. Such a problem formulation may result in paths with different arrival times and lead to a long makespan, the maximum arrival time, among the agents. This paper proposes a min-max variant of MCPF, denoted as MCPF-max, that minimizes the makespan of the agents. While the existing methods (such as MS*) for MCPF can be adapted to solve MCPF-max, we further develop two new techniques based on MS* to defer the expensive target sequencing during planning to expedite the overall computation. We analyze the properties of the resulting algorithm Deferred MS* (DMS*), and test DMS* with up to 20 agents and 80 targets. We demonstrate the use of DMS* on differential-drive robots.

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Abstract:This paper considers a generalization of the Path Finding (PF) with refueling constraints referred to as the Refuelling Path Finding (RF-PF) problem. Just like PF, the RF-PF problem is defined over a graph, where vertices are gas stations with known fuel prices, and edge costs depend on the gas consumption between the corresponding vertices. RF-PF seeks a minimum-cost path from the start to the goal vertex for a robot with a limited gas tank and a limited number of refuelling stops. While RF-PF is polynomial-time solvable, it remains a challenge to quickly compute an optimal solution in practice since the robot needs to simultaneously determine the path, where to make the stops, and the amount to refuel at each stop. This paper develops a heuristic search algorithm called Refuel A* (RF-A* ) that iteratively constructs partial solution paths from the start to the goal guided by a heuristic function while leveraging dominance rules for state pruning during planning. RF-A* is guaranteed to find an optimal solution and runs more than an order of magnitude faster than the existing state of the art (a polynomial time algorithm) when tested in large city maps with hundreds of gas stations.

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