Multi-Robot-Assisted Human Crowd Evacuation using Navigation Velocity Fields

Tongjia Zheng, Zhenyuan Yuan, Mollik Nayyar, Alan R. Wagner, Minghui Zhu, Hai Lin

This work studies a robot-assisted crowd evacuation problem where we control a small group of robots to guide a large human crowd to safe locations. The challenge lies in how to model human-robot interactions and design robot controls to indirectly control a human population that significantly outnumbers the robots. To address the challenge, we treat the crowd as a continuum and formulate the evacuation objective as driving the crowd density to target locations. We propose a novel mean-field model which consists of a family of microscopic equations that explicitly model how human motions are locally guided by the robots and an associated macroscopic equation that describes how the crowd density is controlled by the navigation velocity fields generated by all robots. Then, we design density feedback controllers for the robots to dynamically adjust their states such that the generated navigation velocity fields drive the crowd density to a target density. Stability guarantees of the proposed controllers are proven. Agent-based simulations are included to evaluate the proposed evacuation algorithms.

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