Autonomous mobile robots with lights


We consider the well known distributed setting of computational mobile entities, called robots, operating in the Euclidean plane in Look-Compute-Move (LCM) cycles. We investigate the computational impact of expanding the capabilities of the robots by endowing them with an externally visible memory register, called light, whose values, called colors, are persistent, that is they are not automatically reset at the end of each cycle. We refer to so endowed entities as luminous robots. We study the computational power of luminous robots with respect to the three main settings of activation and synchronization: fully-synchronous, semi-synchronous, and asynchronous. We establish several results. A main contribution is the constructive proof that asynchronous robots, illuminated with a constant number of colors, are strictly more powerful than traditional semi-synchronous robots. We also constructively prove that, for luminous robots, the difference between asynchrony and semi-synchrony disappears. This result must be contrasted with the strict dominance between the models without lights (even if the robots are enhanced with an unbounded amount of persistent internal memory). Additionally we show that there are problems that robots cannot solve without lights, even if they are fully-synchronous, but can be solved by asynchronous luminous robots with O(1) colors. It is still open whether or not asynchronous luminous robots with O(1) colors are more powerful than fully-synchronous robots without lights. We prove that this is indeed the case if the robots have the additional capability of remembering a single snapshot. This in turn shows that, for asynchronous robots, to have O(1) colors and a single snapshot renders them more powerful than to have an unlimited amount of persistent memory (including snapshots) but no lights. ∗Some of these results have been presented at the 32nd International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (ICDCS). †LIF, Aix-Marseille University & CNRS, France. Email: ‡SEECS, University of Ottawa, Canada. Email: §Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Pisa, Italy. Email: ¶School of Computer Science, Carleton University, Canada. Email: ‖Department of Informatics, Kyushu University, Japan. Email:

DOI: 10.1016/j.tcs.2015.09.018

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@article{Das2016AutonomousMR, title={Autonomous mobile robots with lights}, author={Shantanu Das and Paola Flocchini and Giuseppe Prencipe and Nicola Santoro and Masafumi Yamashita}, journal={Theor. Comput. Sci.}, year={2016}, volume={609}, pages={171-184} }