Matching Items (4)

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Decentralized Control of Collective Transport by Multi-Robot Systems with Minimal Information

Description

One potential application of multi-robot systems is collective transport, a task in which multiple mobile robots collaboratively transport a payload that is too large or heavy to be carried by

One potential application of multi-robot systems is collective transport, a task in which multiple mobile robots collaboratively transport a payload that is too large or heavy to be carried by a single robot. Numerous control schemes have been proposed for collective transport in environments where robots can localize themselves (e.g., using GPS) and communicate with one another, have information about the payload's geometric and dynamical properties, and follow predefined robot and/or payload trajectories. However, these approaches cannot be applied in uncertain environments where robots do not have reliable communication and GPS and lack information about the payload. These conditions characterize a variety of applications, including construction, mining, assembly in space and underwater, search-and-rescue, and disaster response.
Toward this end, this thesis presents decentralized control strategies for collective transport by robots that regulate their actions using only their local sensor measurements and minimal prior information. These strategies can be implemented on robots that have limited or absent localization capabilities, do not explicitly exchange information, and are not assigned predefined trajectories. The controllers are developed for collective transport over planar surfaces, but can be extended to three-dimensional environments.

This thesis addresses the above problem for two control objectives. First, decentralized controllers are proposed for velocity control of collective transport, in which the robots must transport a payload at a constant velocity through an unbounded domain that may contain strictly convex obstacles. The robots are provided only with the target transport velocity, and they do not have global localization or prior information about any obstacles in the environment. Second, decentralized controllers are proposed for position control of collective transport, in which the robots must transport a payload to a target position through a bounded or unbounded domain that may contain convex obstacles. The robots are subject to the same constraints as in the velocity control scenario, except that they are assumed to have global localization. Theoretical guarantees for successful execution of the task are derived using techniques from nonlinear control theory, and it is shown through simulations and physical robot experiments that the transport objectives are achieved with the proposed controllers.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2020

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Ant-Inspired Control Strategies for Collective Transport by Dynamic Multi-Robot Teams with Temporary Leaders

Description

In certain ant species, groups of ants work together to transport food and materials back to their nests. In some cases, the group exhibits a leader-follower behavior in which a

In certain ant species, groups of ants work together to transport food and materials back to their nests. In some cases, the group exhibits a leader-follower behavior in which a single ant guides the entire group based on its knowledge of the destination. In some cases, the leader role is occupied temporarily by an ant, only to be replaced when an ant with new information arrives. This kind of behavior can be very useful in uncertain environments where robot teams work together to transport a heavy or bulky payload. The purpose of this research was to study ways to implement this behavior on robot teams.

In this work, I combined existing dynamical models of collective transport in ants to create a stochastic model that describes these behaviors and can be used to control multi-robot systems to perform collective transport. In this model, each agent transitions stochastically between roles based on the force that it senses the other agents are applying to the load. The agent’s motion is governed by a proportional controller that updates its applied force based on the load velocity. I developed agent-based simulations of this model in NetLogo and explored leader-follower scenarios in which agents receive information about the transport destination by a newly informed agent (leader) joining the team. From these simulations, I derived the mean allocations of agents between “puller” and “lifter” roles and the mean forces applied by the agents throughout the motion.

From the simulation results obtained, we show that the mean ratio of lifter to puller populations is approximately 1:1. We also show that agents using the role update procedure based on forces are required to exert less force than agents that select their role based on their position on the load, although both strategies achieve similar transport speeds.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2020

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Scalable control strategies and a customizable swarm robotic platform for boundary coverage and collective transport tasks

Description

Swarms of low-cost, autonomous robots can potentially be used to collectively perform tasks over large domains and long time scales. The design of decentralized, scalable swarm control strategies will enable

Swarms of low-cost, autonomous robots can potentially be used to collectively perform tasks over large domains and long time scales. The design of decentralized, scalable swarm control strategies will enable the development of robotic systems that can execute such tasks with a high degree of parallelism and redundancy, enabling effective operation even in the presence of unknown environmental factors and individual robot failures. Social insect colonies provide a rich source of inspiration for these types of control approaches, since they can perform complex collective tasks under a range of conditions. To validate swarm robotic control strategies, experimental testbeds with large numbers of robots are required; however, existing low-cost robots are specialized and can lack the necessary sensing, navigation, control, and manipulation capabilities.

To address these challenges, this thesis presents a formal approach to designing biologically-inspired swarm control strategies for spatially-confined coverage and payload transport tasks, as well as a novel low-cost, customizable robotic platform for testing swarm control approaches. Stochastic control strategies are developed that provably allocate a swarm of robots around the boundaries of multiple regions of interest or payloads to be transported. These strategies account for spatially-dependent effects on the robots' physical distribution and are largely robust to environmental variations. In addition, a control approach based on reinforcement learning is presented for collective payload towing that accommodates robots with heterogeneous maximum speeds. For both types of collective transport tasks, rigorous approaches are developed to identify and translate observed group retrieval behaviors in Novomessor cockerelli ants to swarm robotic control strategies. These strategies can replicate features of ant transport and inherit its properties of robustness to different environments and to varying team compositions. The approaches incorporate dynamical models of the swarm that are amenable to analysis and control techniques, and therefore provide theoretical guarantees on the system's performance. Implementation of these strategies on robotic swarms offers a way for biologists to test hypotheses about the individual-level mechanisms that drive collective behaviors. Finally, this thesis describes Pheeno, a new swarm robotic platform with a three degree-of-freedom manipulator arm, and describes its use in validating a variety of swarm control strategies.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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Development and analysis of stochastic boundary coverage strategies for multi-robot systems

Description

Robotic technology is advancing to the point where it will soon be feasible to deploy massive populations, or swarms, of low-cost autonomous robots to collectively perform tasks over large domains

Robotic technology is advancing to the point where it will soon be feasible to deploy massive populations, or swarms, of low-cost autonomous robots to collectively perform tasks over large domains and time scales. Many of these tasks will require the robots to allocate themselves around the boundaries of regions or features of interest and achieve target objectives that derive from their resulting spatial configurations, such as forming a connected communication network or acquiring sensor data around the entire boundary. We refer to this spatial allocation problem as boundary coverage. Possible swarm tasks that will involve boundary coverage include cooperative load manipulation for applications in construction, manufacturing, and disaster response.

In this work, I address the challenges of controlling a swarm of resource-constrained robots to achieve boundary coverage, which I refer to as the problem of stochastic boundary coverage. I first examined an instance of this behavior in the biological phenomenon of group food retrieval by desert ants, and developed a hybrid dynamical system model of this process from experimental data. Subsequently, with the aid of collaborators, I used a continuum abstraction of swarm population dynamics, adapted from a modeling framework used in chemical kinetics, to derive stochastic robot control policies that drive a swarm to target steady-state allocations around multiple boundaries in a way that is robust to environmental variations.

Next, I determined the statistical properties of the random graph that is formed by a group of robots, each with the same capabilities, that have attached to a boundary at random locations. I also computed the probability density functions (pdfs) of the robot positions and inter-robot distances for this case.

I then extended this analysis to cases in which the robots have heterogeneous communication/sensing radii and attach to a boundary according to non-uniform, non-identical pdfs. I proved that these more general coverage strategies generate random graphs whose probability of connectivity is Sharp-P Hard to compute. Finally, I investigated possible approaches to validating our boundary coverage strategies in multi-robot simulations with realistic Wi-fi communication.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016