This paper presents an autonomous multivehicle control algorithm capable of persistently searching and tracking targets in a defined search area subject to operational endurance constraints of individual agents. The algorithm development is modular to allow scalability and a control architecture that can be modified to any type of autonomous vehicle, search area, or target. In practical application, a target can be anything from heat signatures to radioactive material; therefore, this work employs a generic emitter-detector pair as a placeholder relationship for real world applications. The control strategy accounts for the appearance, motion, and disappearance of multiple targets in the search space constituting the utility of creating a team of multiple search agents. When agent battery level drops below a predetermined threshold, the agent returns to a base station to recharge and be relaunched into the mission. Remaining agents must account for this loss and gain of other team members as they exit the search environment. The contributions of this work are 1) the design of search trajectories for autonomous vehicles with limited endurance, 2) incorporation of return-to-base and recharge time requirements, and 3) coordination of multiple vehicles by developing a decision-making model to and assign agents to operational modes. We have run an extensive number of experimental trials to collect and analyze performance data for further development and testing.

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