Architecture for real-time coordination of multiple autonomous mobile units; Arquitectura para coordenação em tempo-real de múltiplas unidades móveis autónomas

by Frederico Miguel Santos

Institution: Universidade de Aveiro
Year: 2014
Keywords: Engenharia electrotécnica; Robots autónomos; Sistemas em tempo real; Comunicação sem fios; Comunicações de acesso múltiplo; Bases de dados distribuídas; TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access); Multi-robot systems; Real-time systems; Information sharing; Wireless communication; TDMA protocols; Distributed databases
Record ID: 1323688
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10773/13969


Interest on using teams of mobile robots has been growing, due to their potential to cooperate for diverse purposes, such as rescue, de-mining, surveillance or even games such as robotic soccer. These applications require a real-time middleware and wireless communication protocol that can support an efficient and timely fusion of the perception data from different robots as well as the development of coordinated behaviours. Coordinating several autonomous robots towards achieving a common goal is currently a topic of high interest, which can be found in many application domains. Despite these different application domains, the technical problem of building an infrastructure to support the integration of the distributed perception and subsequent coordinated action is similar. This problem becomes tougher with stronger system dynamics, e.g., when the robots move faster or interact with fast objects, leading to tighter real-time constraints. This thesis work addressed computing architectures and wireless communication protocols to support efficient information sharing and coordination strategies taking into account the real-time nature of robot activities. The thesis makes two main claims. Firstly, we claim that despite the use of a wireless communication protocol that includes arbitration mechanisms, the self-organization of the team communications in a dynamic round that also accounts for variable team membership, effectively reduces collisions within the team, independently of its current composition, significantly improving the quality of the communications. We will validate this claim in terms of packet losses and communication latency. We show how such self-organization of the communications can be achieved in an efficient way with the Reconfigurable and Adaptive TDMA protocol. Secondly, we claim that the development of distributed perception, cooperation and coordinated action for teams of mobile robots can be simplified by using a shared memory middleware that replicates in each cooperating robot all necessary remote data, the Real-Time Database (RTDB) middleware. These remote data copies, which are updated in the background by the selforganizing communications protocol, are extended with age information automatically computed by the middleware and are locally accessible through fast primitives. We validate our claim showing a parsimonious use of the communication medium, improved timing information with respect to the shared data and the simplicity of use and effectiveness of the proposed middleware shown in several use cases, reinforced with a reasonable impact in the Middle Size League of RoboCup.; O interesse na utilização de equipas multi-robô tem vindo a crescer, devido ao seu potencial para cooperarem na resolução de vários problemas, tais como salvamento, desminagem, vigilância e até futebol robótico. Estas aplicações requerem uma infraestrutura de comunicação sem fios, em tempo real, suportando a fusão eficiente e atempada dos dados sensoriais de diferentes robôs bem como o desenvolvimento de…