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Cooperative and intelligent control of multi-robot systems using machine learning

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Title: Cooperative and intelligent control of multi-robot systems using machine learning
Author: Wang, Ying
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program Mechanical Engineering
Copyright Date: 2008
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2008-09-08
Subject Keywords Robot systems; AI; Q-learning; SQKF
Abstract: This thesis investigates cooperative and intelligent control of autonomous multi-robot systems in a dynamic, unstructured and unknown environment and makes significant original contributions with regard to self-deterministic learning for robot cooperation, evolutionary optimization of robotic actions, improvement of system robustness, vision-based object tracking, and real-time performance. A distributed multi-robot architecture is developed which will facilitate operation of a cooperative multi-robot system in a dynamic and unknown environment in a self-improving, robust, and real-time manner. It is a fully distributed and hierarchical architecture with three levels. By combining several popular AI, soft computing, and control techniques such as learning, planning, reactive paradigm, optimization, and hybrid control, the developed architecture is expected to facilitate effective autonomous operation of cooperative multi-robot systems in a dynamically changing, unknown, and unstructured environment. A machine learning technique is incorporated into the developed multi-robot system for self-deterministic and self-improving cooperation and coping with uncertainties in the environment. A modified Q-learning algorithm termed Sequential Q-learning with Kalman Filtering (SQKF) is developed in the thesis, which can provide fast multi-robot learning. By arranging the robots to learn according to a predefined sequence, modeling the effect of the actions of other robots in the work environment as Gaussian white noise and estimating this noise online with a Kalman filter, the SQKF algorithm seeks to solve several key problems in multi-robot learning. As a part of low-level sensing and control in the proposed multi-robot architecture, a fast computer vision algorithm for color-blob tracking is developed to track multiple moving objects in the environment. By removing the brightness and saturation information in an image and filtering unrelated information based on statistical features and domain knowledge, the algorithm solves the problems of uneven illumination in the environment and improves real-time performance.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/1717

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