The Internet of Cooperative Agents Architecture (X-IoCA) for Robots, Hybrid Sensor Networks, and MEC Centers in Complex Environments: A Search and Rescue Case Study

Sensors (Basel). 2021 Nov 25;21(23):7843. doi: 10.3390/s21237843.


Cloud robotics and advanced communications can foster a step-change in cooperative robots and hybrid wireless sensor networks (H-WSN) for demanding environments (e.g., disaster response, mining, demolition, and nuclear sites) by enabling the timely sharing of data and computational resources between robot and human teams. However, the operational complexity of such multi-agent systems requires defining effective architectures, coping with implementation details, and testing in realistic deployments. This article proposes X-IoCA, an Internet of robotic things (IoRT) and communication architecture consisting of a hybrid and heterogeneous network of wireless transceivers (H2WTN), based on LoRa and BLE technologies, and a robot operating system (ROS) network. The IoRT is connected to a feedback information system (FIS) distributed among multi-access edge computing (MEC) centers. Furthermore, we present SAR-IoCA, an implementation of the architecture for search and rescue (SAR) integrated into a 5G network. The FIS for this application consists of an SAR-FIS (including a path planner for UGVs considering risks detected by a LoRa H-WSN) and an ROS-FIS (for real-time monitoring and processing of information published throughout the ROS network). Moreover, we discuss lessons learned from using SAR-IoCA in a realistic exercise where three UGVs, a UAV, and responders collaborated to rescue victims from a tunnel accessible through rough terrain.

Keywords: 5G communications; UAV; UGV; architectures for cooperation; cloud robotics; edge computing; hybrid wireless sensor network; path-planning; robot teams; search and rescue.

MeSH terms

  • Disasters*
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Internet of Things*
  • Rescue Work
  • Robotics*