Multiagent UAV Routing: A Game Theory Analysis with Tight Price of Anarchy Bounds

Omkar Thakoor, Jugal Garg, Rakesh Nagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the multiagent unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) routing problem where a set of UAVs needs to collect information via surveillance of an area of operation. Each UAV is autonomous and does not rely on a reliable communication medium to coordinate with other UAVs. We formulate the problem as a game where UAVs are players and their strategies are the different routes they can take. Our model also incorporates the useful concept of information fusion. This results in a new variant of weighted congestion-type games. We show that the price of anarchy (PoA) of the game is at most 2, irrespective of the number of UAVs and their sensor capabilities. This also validates the empirical results of earlier works. Furthermore, we identify classes of games for the existence of a pure Nash equilibrium. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first such theoretical results in the related literature. Finally, we conduct experimental studies using randomly generated instances with several multiagent UAV routing policies. Our insights are that PoA increases with the congestion level when the same number of UAVs search a smaller area or more UAVs search the same area, and on an average, our proposed policies are less than 10% worse than the centralized optimal for the problem scenarios attempted. Note to Practitioners - UAVs are becoming increasingly popular for information collection tasks in defense and civilian applications alike. When the collection area is large, it is not unusual that a fleet of UAVs is deployed. Routing of a fleet can be performed in a centralized or decentralized manner. Decentralized routing might be the only possibility when centralized situational awareness is not possible due to bandwidth limitations and centralized optimal routes for each UAV in the fleet are too complex to compute. Autonomous solutions have several other advantages, let alone simplicity. For managers of UAV systems, our work provides the first theoretical characterization of how bad could decentralized routing be. Under various scenarios of information fusion, specifically weak and strong, and the attribution of information collected to each UAV of a team, we prove that the fleet will collect at least 50% of the best-centralized solution. Empirically, we show that, in fact, the performance of the fleet is much better and generally not worse than 10% of the best-centralized solution. Hopefully, our routing strategies provide valuable guidance to the practicing engineer or manager of a UAV fleet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8671711
Pages (from-to)100-116
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Game theory
  • multiagent systems
  • price of anarchy (PoA)
  • surveillance and reconnaissance
  • unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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