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Failure-Tolerant Connectivity Maintenance for Robot Swarms

Connectivity maintenance plays a key role in achieving a desired global behavior among a swarm of robots. However, connectivity maintenance in realistic environments is hampered by lack of computation resources, low communication bandwidth, robot failures, and unstable links. In this paper, we propose a novel decentralized connectivity-preserving algorithm that can be deployed on top of other behaviors to enforce connectivity constraints. The algorithm takes a set of targets to be reached while keeping a minimum number of redundant links between robots, with the goal of guaranteeing bandwidth and reliability. Robots then incrementally build and maintain a communication backbone with the specified number of links. We empirically study the performance of the algorithm, analyzing its time to convergence, as well as robustness to faults injected into the backbone robots. Our results statistically demonstrate the algorithm's ability to preserve the desired connectivity constraints and to reach the targets with up to 70 percent of individual robot failures in the communication backbone.


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