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Design patterns for robot swarms

Pitonakova, Lenka (2017) Design patterns for robot swarms University of Southampton Doctoral Thesis , 380pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)


Demand for autonomous multi-robot systems, where robots can cooperate with each other without human intervention, is set to grow rapidly in the next decade. Today, technologies such as self-driving cars and fleets of robotic assistants in hospitals and warehouses are being developed and used. In the future, robot swarms could be deployed in retrieval, reconnaissance and construction missions.

Distributed collective systems have desirable properties, such as low cost of individual robots, robustness, fault tolerance and scalability. One of the main challenges in swarm robotics is that "bottom-up" approach to behaviour design is required. While the swarm performance is specied on the collective level of the swarm, robot designers need to program control algorithms of individual robots, while taking into account complex robot-robot interactions that allow emergence of collective intelligence. In order to be able to develop such systems, we need a methodology that aligns bottom-up design decisions with top-down design specifications.

In this thesis, a novel approach to understanding and designing robot swarms that perform foraging and task allocation is proposed. Based on thousands of different simulation experiments, the Information-Cost-Reward framework is formulated, that relates the way in which a swarm obtains and uses information, to its ability to use that information in order to obtain reward efficiently. Secondly, based on the information-based understanding of swarm performance, design patterns for robot swarms are formalised. The design patterns are modular aspects of robot behaviour that dene when and how information should be obtained, exchanged or updated by robots, given particular swarm mission characteristics. Multiple design patterns can be unambiguously combined together in order to create a suitable robot control strategy.

The design patterns specify robot behaviour in a newly developed Behaviour-Data Relations Modeling Language, where relationships between robot behaviour and data stored in and outside of robots are explicitly defined. This allows the design patterns to define behaviour of robots that cooperate and share information.

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Published date: February 2017
Organisations: University of Southampton, Electronics & Computer Science


Local EPrints ID: 410360
PURE UUID: 16dfdc73-0699-4e05-a519-1b0509652c1f

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Date deposited: 07 Jun 2017 16:30
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 13:32

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Author: Lenka Pitonakova
Thesis advisor: Richard Crowder

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