A Constraint Programming Approach to Multi-Robot Task Allocation and Scheduling in Retirement Homes
We study the application of constraint programming (CP) to the planning and scheduling of multiple social robots interacting with residents in a retirement home. The robots autonomously organize and facilitate group and individual activities among residents. The application is a multi-robot task allocation and scheduling problem in which task plans must be determined that integrate with resident schedules. The problem involves reasoning about disjoint time windows, inter-schedule task dependencies, user and robot travel times, as well as robot energy levels. We propose mixed-integer programming (MIP) and CP approaches for this problem and investigate methods for improving our initial CP approach using symmetry breaking, variable ordering heuristics, and large neighbourhood search. We introduce a relaxed CP model for determining provable bounds on solution quality. Experiments indicate substantial superiority of the initial CP approach over MIP, and subsequent significant improvements in the CP approach through our manipulations. This work is one of the few, of which we are aware, that applies CP to multi-robot task allocation and scheduling problems. Our results demonstrate the promise of CP scheduling technology as a general optimization infrastructure for such problems.
The authors would like to thank the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Dr. Robot Inc., and the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program.
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