Title: Effective Cooperation and Scalability in Multi-Robot Teams for Automatic Patrolling of Infrastructures
Authors: Portugal, David Bina Siassipour 
Keywords: Distributed Systems;Multi-Robot Patrol;Multi-Agent Learning;Security;Graph Theory;Topological Maps;Scalability;Performance;Robustness;Sistemas Distribuídos;Patrulha Multi-Robô;Aprendizagem Multi-Agente
Issue Date: 27-Mar-2014
Citation: PORTUGAL, David Bina Siassipour - Effective cooperation and scalability in multi-robot teams for automatic patrolling of infrastructures. Coimbra : [s.n.], 2014. Tese de doutoramento. Disponível na WWW: http://hdl.handle.net/10316/24298
Abstract: In the digital era that we live in, advances in technology have proliferated throughout our society, quickening the completion of tasks that were painful in the old days, improving solutions to the everyday problems that we face, and generally assisting human beings both in their professional and personal life. Robotics is a clear example of a broad technological field that evolves every day. In fact, scientists predict that in the upcoming few decades, robots will naturally interact and coexist alongside human beings. While it is true that robots already have a strong presence in industrial environments, e.g., robotic arms for manufacturing, the average person still looks upon robots with suspicion, since they are not acquainted by such type of technology. In this thesis, the author deploys teams of mobile robots in indoor scenarios to cooperatively perform patrolling missions, which represents an effort to bring robots closer to humans and assist them in monotonous or repetitive tasks, such as supervising and monitoring indoor infrastructures or simply cooperatively cleaning floors. In this context, the team of robots should be able to sense the environment, localize and navigate autonomously between way points while avoiding obstacles, incorporate any number of robots, communicate actions in a distributed way and being robust not only to agent failures but also communication failures, so as to effectively coordinate to achieve optimal collective performance. The referred capabilities are an evidence that such systems can only prove their reliability in real-world environments if robots are endowed with intelligence and autonomy. Thus, the author follows a line of research where patrolling units have the necessary tools for intelligent decision-making, according to the information of the mission, the environment and teammates' actions, using distributed coordination architectures. An incremental approach is followed. Firstly, the problem is presented and the literature is deeply studied in order to identify potential weaknesses and research opportunities, backing up the objectives and contributions proposed in this thesis. Then, problem fundamentals are described and benchmarking of multi-robot patrolling algorithms in realistic conditions is conducted. In these earlier stages, the role of different parameters of the problem, like environment connectivity, team size and strategy philosophy, will become evident through extensive empirical results and statistical analysis. In addition, scalability is deeply analyzed and tied with inter-robot interference and coordination, imposed by each patrolling strategy. After gaining sensibility to the problem, preliminary models for multi-robot patrol with special focus on real-world application are presented, using a Bayesian inspired formalism. Based on these, distributed strategies that lead to superior team performance are described. Interference between autonomous agents is explicitly dealt with, and the approaches are shown to scale to large teams of robots. Additionally, the robustness to agent and communication failures is demonstrated, as well as the flexibility of the model proposed. In fact, by later generalizing the model with learning agents and maintaining memory of past events, it is then shown that these capabilities can be inherited, while at the same time increasing team performance even further and fostering adaptability. This is verified in simulation experiments and real-world results in a large indoor scenario. Furthermore, since the issue of team scalability is highly in focus in this thesis, a method for estimating the optimal team size in a patrolling mission, according to the environment topology is proposed. Upper bounds for team performance prior to the mission start are provided, supporting the choice of the number of robots to be used so that temporal constraints can be satisfied. All methods developed in this thesis are tested and corroborated by experimental results, showing the usefulness of employing cooperative teams of robots in real-world environments and the potential for similar systems to emerge in our society.
Description: Tese de doutoramento em Engenharia Electrotécnica e de Computadores, apresentada ao Departamento de Engenharia Electrotécnica e de Computadores da Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10316/24298
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:FCTUC Eng.Electrotécnica - Teses de Doutoramento

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