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Multiagent Networks: sensors and robots

The research activity focus is on the design of an architecture for a heterogeneous network, consisting of a fixed network of smart sensors that interact with, and act on, a team of autonomous mobile agents, with the purpose of exploring the environment and build a knowledge of the surroundings by efficiently controlling the information acquisition process.

In particular, the problems of Localization, Beacon placement, Coverage Control are taken into account and solutions are studied based on the mutual interplay between the robot and sensor networks: in this sense, the control of the heterogeneous network relies on (i) distributed computation and (ii) coordination algorithms.

For example, the coverage problem is formulated as an optimization problem that maximizes the expected event detection frequency by the sensors, over the entire mission space: when dealing with a multi-agent system, distributed coverage control is improved by partitioning the mission space and coordinating among agents the visit of the areas of interest according to locally computed optimal functionals.

Control of swarms

Cooperative milling.

Consensus-based estimation.

A robotic swarm (e.g. hundreds of drones) represents a large scale interconnected system: the interaction among agents is defined according to attractive/repulsive potentials (e.g. Morse potential) and the agents are also endowed with communication capabilities attained through different protocols.

The behavior of this system can be described through a phase plot related to the interaction law parameters, which highlights motion regimes whose equilibrium are those of (i) flocking and (ii) milling: to control the transition between these regimes in relation with the distributed estimation of exhogenous variables is the main focus of the research.