Distributed autonomy and trade-offs in online multiobject k-coverage

Lukas Esterle*, Peter R. Lewis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we explore the online multiobject k-coverage problem in visual sensor networks. This problem combines k-coverage and the cooperative multirobot observation of multiple moving targets problem, and thereby captures key features of rapidly deployed camera networks, including redundancy and team-based tracking of evasive or unpredictable targets. The benefits of using mobile cameras are demonstrated and we explore the balance of autonomy between cameras generating new subgoals, and those responders able to fulfill them. We show that higher performance against global goals is achieved when decisions are delegated to potential responders who treat subgoals as optional, rather than as obligations that override existing goals without question. This is because responders have up-to-date knowledge of their own state and progress toward goals where they are situated, which is typically old or incomplete at locations remote from them. Examining the extent to which approaches overprovision or underprovision coverage, we find that being well suited for achieving 1-coverage does not imply good performance at k-coverage. Depending on the structure of the environment, the problems of 1-coverage and k-coverage are not necessarily aligned and that there is often a trade-off to be made between standard coverage maximization and achieving k-coverage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)720-742
Number of pages23
JournalComputational Intelligence
Issue number2
Early online date12 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Esterle, L, Lewis, PR. Distributed autonomy and trade‐offs in online multiobject k‐coverage. Computational Intelligence. 2019; 1– 23. , which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/coin.12264.  This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

Funding: H2020 Marie Skłodowska‐Curie Actions. Grant Number: 705020


  • distributed coordination
  • distributed k-coverage
  • dynamic reconfiguration
  • mobile smart cameras


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