Robust connectivity maintenance for fallible robots
Multi-robot systems are promising tools for many hazardous real-world problems. In particular, the practical application of swarm robotics was identified as one of the grand challenges of the next decade. As swarms enter the real world, they have to deal with the inevitable problems of hardware, software, and communication failure, especially for long-term deployments. Communication is a key element for effective collaboration, and the ability of robots to communicate is expressed by the swarm’s connectivity. In this paper, we analyze a set of techniques to assess, control, and enforce connectivity in the context of fallible robots. Past research has addressed the issue of connectivity but, for the most part, without making system reliability a constitutional part of the model. We introduce a controller for connectivity maintenance in the presence of faults and discuss the optimization of its parameters and performance. We validate our approach in simulation and via physical robot experiments.
KeywordsSwarm robotics Connectivity Resilience Fault-tolerance Robotic hardware
The authors would like to thank Québec’s Ministère des Relations Internationales et de la Francophonie (MRIF) and Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) for supporting SCMQI’s project QU17MO04 “Maintenance and Control of Distributed Robot and Sensor Network”.
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