|Article by H. V. Abeywickrama, Y. He, E. Dutkiewicz, B. A. Jayawickrama and M. Mueck|
|Full title: A Generic Spatiotemporal Scheduling for Autonomous UAVs: A Reinforcement Learning-Based Approach
Considerable attention has been given to leverage a variety of smart city applications using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The rapid advances in artificial intelligence can empower UAVs with autonomous capabilities allowing them to learn from their surrounding environment and act accordingly without human intervention.
In this paper, we propose a spatiotemporal scheduling framework for autonomous UAVs using reinforcement learning. The framework enables UAVs to autonomously determine their schedules to cover the maximum of pre-scheduled events spatially and temporally distributed in a given geographical area and over a pre-determined time horizon.
The designed framework has the ability to update the planned schedules in case of unexpected emergency events. The UAVs are trained using the Q-learning (QL) algorithm to find effective scheduling plan.
A customized reward function is developed to consider several constraints especially the limited battery capacity of the flying units, the time windows of events, and the delays caused by the UAV navigation between events. Numerical simulations show the behavior of the autonomous UAVs for various scenarios and corroborate the ability of QL to handle complex vehicle routing problems with several constraints.
A comparison with an optimal deterministic solution is also provided to validate the performance of the learning-based solution.