This paper addresses the challenging problem of finding collision-free trajectories for many robots moving to individual goals within a common environment. Most popular algorithms for multi-robot planning manage the complexity of the problem by planning trajectories for robots sequentially; such decoupled methods may fail to find a solution even if one exists. In contrast, this paper describes a multi-phase approach to the planning problem that guarantees a solution by creating and maintaining obstacle-free paths through the environment as required for each robot to reach its goal. Using a topological graph and spanning tree representation of a tunnel or corridor environment, the multi-phase planner is capable of planning trajectories for up to r = L-1 robots, where the spanning tree includes L leaves. Monte Carlo simulations in a large environment with varying number of robots demonstrate that the algorithm can solve planning problems requiring complex coordination of many robots that cannot be solved with a decoupled approach, and is scalable with complexity linear in the number of robots.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/cmclark/23/