A Two-Stage Approach for Routing Multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles with Stochastic Fuel Consumption
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The past decade has seen a substantial increase in the use of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in both civil and military applications. This article addresses an important aspect of refueling in the context of routing multiple small UAVs to complete a surveillance or data collection mission. Specifically, this article formulates a multiple-UAV routing problem with the refueling constraint of minimizing the overall fuel consumption for all the vehicles as a two-stage stochastic optimization problem with uncertainty associated with the fuel consumption of each vehicle. The two-stage model allows for the application of sample average approximation (SAA). Although the SAA solution asymptotically converges to the optimal solution for the two-stage model, the SAA run time can be prohibitive for medium- and large-scale test instances. Hence, we develop a tabu search-based heuristic that exploits the model structure while considering the uncertainty in fuel consumption. Extensive computational experiments corroborate the benefits of the two-stage model compared to a deterministic model and the effectiveness of the heuristic for obtaining high-quality solutions.
author list (cited authors)
Venkatachalam, S., Sundar, K., & Rathinam, S.