Collaborative delivery on a fixed path with homogeneous energy-constrained agents

Jeremie Chalopin, Shantanu Das*, Yann Disser, Arnaud Labourel, Matus Mihalak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We consider the problem of collectively delivering a package from a specified source to a designated target location in a graph, using multiple mobile agents. Each agent starts from some vertex of the graph; it can move along the edges of the graph and can pick up the package from a vertex and drop it in another vertex during the course of its movement. However, each agent has limited energy budget allowing it to traverse a path of bounded length B; thus, multiple agents need to collaborate to move the package to its destination. Given the positions of the agents in the graph and their energy budgets, the problem of finding a feasible movement schedule is called the Collaborative Delivery problem and has been studied before.

One of the open questions from previous results is what happens when the delivery must follow a fixed path given in advance. Although this special constraint reduces the search space for feasible solutions, the problem remains NP hard, as the general version of the problem. We consider the optimization version of the problem that asks for the optimal energy budget B per agent which allows for a feasible delivery schedule along a fixed path, given the initial positions of the agents. We provide polynomial time approximation algorithms for both directed and undirected graphs, and establish hardness of approximation for the directed case. Note that the fixed path version of collaborative delivery requires completely different techniques since a single agent may be used multiple times, unlike the general version of collaborative delivery studied before. We show that restricting each agent to a single pickup allows better approximations for fixed path collaborative delivery compared to the original problem. Finally, we provide a polynomial time algorithm for determining a feasible delivery strategy, if any exists, for a given budget B when the number of available agents is bounded by a constant. (C) 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-96
Number of pages10
JournalTheoretical Computer Science
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2021


  • Collaborative delivery
  • Mobile agents
  • Energy constrained robots
  • Directed graphs
  • Fixed path
  • Approximation algorithms


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