Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Model-Based Methodologies for Distributed Control: A Comparative Experimental Study

  • Grégory MermoudEmail author
  • Utkarsh Upadhyay
  • William C. Evans
  • Alcherio Martinoli
Part of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics book series (STAR, volume 79)


Model-based synthesis of distributed controllers for multi-robot systems is commonly approached in either a top-down or bottom-up fashion. In this paper, we investigate the experimental challenges of both approaches, with a special emphasis on resource-constrained miniature robots. We make our comparison through a case study in which a group of 2-cm-sized mobile robots screen the environment for undesirable features, and destroy or neutralize them. First, we solve this problem using a top-down approach that relies on a graph-based representation of the system, allowing for direct optimization using numerical techniques (e.g., linear and non-linear convex optimization) under very unrealistic assumptions (e.g., infinite number of robots, perfect localization, global communication, etc.). We show how one can relax these assumptions in the context of resource-constrained robots, and explain the resulting impact on system performance. Second, we solve the same problem using a bottom-up approach, i.e., we build up computationally efficient and accurate models at multiple abstraction levels, and use them to optimize the robots’ controller using evolutionary algorithms. Finally, we outline the differences between the top-down and bottom-up approaches, and experimentally compare their performance.


Mobile Robot Multiagent System Chemical Reaction Network Finite State Machine Central Planner 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Grégory Mermoud
    • 1
    Email author
  • Utkarsh Upadhyay
    • 1
  • William C. Evans
    • 1
  • Alcherio Martinoli
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Distributed Intelligent Systems and Algorithms LaboratoryÉcole Polytechnique Fédérale de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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