Group-Based Distributed Auction Algorithms for Multi-Robot Task Assignment

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This paper studies the multi-robot task assignment problem in which a fleet of dispersed robots needs to efficiently transport a set of dynamically appearing packages from their initial locations to corresponding destinations within prescribed time-windows. Each robot can carry multiple packages simultaneously within its capacity. Given a sufficiently large robot fleet, the objective is to minimize the robots' total travel time to transport the packages within their respective time-window constraints. The problem is shown to be NP-hard, and we design two group-based distributed auction algorithms to solve this task assignment problem. Guided by the auction algorithms, robots first distributively calculate feasible package groups that they can serve, and then communicate to find an assignment of package groups. We quantify the potential of the algorithms with respect to the number of employed robots and the capacity of the robots by considering the robots' total travel time to transport all packages. Simulation results show that the designed algorithms are competitive compared with an exact centralized Integer Linear Program representation solved with the commercial solver Gurobi, and superior to popular greedy algorithms and a heuristic distributed task allocation method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1292-1303
JournalIEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Collision avoidance
  • Distributed algorithms
  • distributed auction algorithm.
  • Heuristic algorithms
  • Multi-robot
  • NP-hard
  • Optimization
  • Robot sensing systems
  • Robots
  • Task analysis
  • task assignment
  • time-windows


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