Multi-agent based path planning for first responders among moving obstacles

Zhiyong Wang, Sisi Zlatanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Natural or man-made disasters can cause different kinds of moving obstacles (e.g., fires, plumes, floods), which make some parts of the road network temporarily unavailable. After such incidents occur, responders have to go to different destinations to perform their tasks in the environment affected by the disaster. Therefore they need a path planner that is capable of dealing with such moving obstacles, as well as generating and coordinating their routes quickly and efficiently. In this paper, we present a novel approach for using a multi-agent system for navigating one or multiple responders to one or multiple destinations in the presence of moving obstacles. Our navigation system supports information collection from hazard simulations, spatio-temporal data processing and analysis, connection with a geo-database, and route generation in dynamic environments affected by disasters. We design and develop a set of software geospatial agents that assist emergency actors in dealing with the spatio-temporal data required for emergency navigation, based on their roles in the disaster response. One of the key components of the system is the path planning module, which combines the modified A* algorithm, insertion heuristics, and auction algorithm to calculate obstacle-avoiding routes for multiple responders with multiple destinations. A spatial data model is designed to support the storage of information about the tasks and routes produced during the disaster response. Our system has been validated using four navigation cases. Some preliminary results are presented in this paper and show the potential of the system for solving more navigation cases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-58
Number of pages11
JournalComputers, Environment and Urban Systems
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


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