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Decentralized Coordinated Tracking with Mixed Discrete–Continuous Decisions


Direct correspondence to: Zhe Xu, e-mail:


In this paper, we study the problem of dynamically positioning a team of mobile robots for target tracking. We treat the coordination of mobile robots for target tracking as a joint team optimization to minimize uncertainty in target state estimates over a fixed horizon. The optimization is inherently a function of both the positioning of robots in continuous space and the assignment of robots to targets in discrete space. Thus, the robot team must make decisions over discrete and continuous variables. In contrast to methods that decouple target assignments and robot positioning, our approach avoids the strong assumption that a robot's utility for observing a target is independent of other robots’ observations. We formulate the optimization as a mixed integer nonlinear program and apply integer relaxation to develop an approximate solution in decentralized form. We demonstrate our coordinated multirobot tracking algorithm both in simulation and using a pair of mobile robotic sensor platforms to track moving pedestrians. Our results show that coupling target assignment and robot positioning realizes coordinated behaviors that are not possible with decoupled methods.