Title page for ETD etd-01242009-063341

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Stilwell, Daniel J.
URN etd-01242009-063341
Title Controlling the cooperative behavior of a system of automous mobile robots
Degree Master of Science
Department Electrical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bay, John S. Committee Chair
Baumann, William T. Committee Member
VanLandingham, Hugh F. Committee Member
  • Robots
Date of Defense 1993-12-15
Availability restricted
A novel material transport system is presented that uses 'swarms' of small

autonomous mobile robots to collectively lift and move palletized loads. The robots are

relatively unsophisticated in design and have no advanced sensory or communications

capability. There is no central or supervisory controller directing the robots. Each robot

must be able react to its environment autonomously, yet cooperate within a team of

similarly designed robots.

Reactive and behavior-based principles are the basis of the system design.

Although the entire material transport scenario is presented in this thesis in the context of

a reactive behavior-based control architecture, emphasis is placed on developing a single

behavior that allows the robots to move a loaded pallet once it has been lifted by a team

of robots. Toward this goal, a centralized control scheme is derived that directs the

actions of the robots while underneath a loaded pallet. It is shown that this approach

produces an 'optimal' distribution of work among the robots. Alternatively, a distributed

control scheme is derived that allows each robot to autonomously assist in moving a

palletized load. This approach assumes a team of robots is capable of electing a leader

and uses the dynamics of a caster as the basis for the development of a control law. Both

the central and distributed control schemes are verified via computer simulation.

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