Lifelong Adaptation in Heterogeneous Multi-Robot Teams: Response to Continual Variation in Individual Robot Performance

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Generating teams of robots that are able to perform their tasks over long periods of time requires the robots to be responsive to continual changes in robot team member capabilities and to changes in the state of the environment and mission. In this article, we describe the L-ALLIANCE architecture, which enables teams of heterogeneous robots to dynamically adapt their actions over time. This architecture, which is an extension of our earlier work on ALLIANCE, is a distributed, behavior-based architecture aimed for use in applications consisting of a collection of independent tasks. The key issue addressed in L-ALLIANCE is the determination of which tasks robots should select to perform during their mission, even when multiple robots with heterogeneous, continually changing capabilities are present on the team. In this approach, robots monitor the performance of their teammates performing common tasks, and evaluate their performance based upon the time of task completion. Robots then use this information throughout the lifetime of their mission to automatically update their control parameters. After describing the L-ALLIANCE architecture, we discuss the results of implementing this approach on a physical team of heterogeneous robots performing proof-of-concept box pushing experiments. The results illustrate the ability of L-ALLIANCE to enable lifelong adaptation of heterogeneous robot teams to continuing changes in the robot team member capabilities and in the environment.

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