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G. Sharon, R. Stern, A. Felner and N. Sturtevant. Meta-Agent Conflict-Based Search For Optimal Multi-Agent Path Finding. In Proceedings of the Symposium on Combinatorial Search (SoCS), 2012.

Abstract: The task in the multi-agent path finding problem (MAPF) is to find paths for multiple agents, each with a different start and goal position, such that agents do not collide. It is possible to solve this problem optimally with algorithms that are based on the A* algorithm. Recently, we proposed an alternative algorithm called Conflict-Based Search (CBS) (Sharon et al. 2012), which was shown to outperform the A*-based algorithms in some cases. CBS is a two-level algorithm. At the high level, a search is performed on a tree based on conflicts between agents. At the low level, a search is performed only for a single agent at a time. While in some cases CBS is very efficient, in other cases it is worse than A*-based algorithms. This paper focuses on the latter case by generalizing CBS to Meta-Agent CBS (MA-CBS). The main idea is to couple groups of agents into meta-agents if the number of internal conflicts between them exceeds a given bound. MACBS acts as a framework that can run on top of any complete MAPF solver. We analyze our new approach and provide experimental results demonstrating that it outperforms basic CBS and other A*-based optimal solvers in many cases.

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(last updated in 2022)