In the last decade, robotic systems have penetrated human life more than human can imagine. In particular, the multi-mobile robotic systems have faced a fast growing due to the fact that by deploying a large collection of mobile robots the overall system has a high redundancy and offers the capability of handling more complex tasks. A group of mobile robots increases robustness against failures and provide flexibility to system changes. In order to achieve a fully autonomous operation, the control algorithm to coordinate the robots becomes more important and decisive. The controller has to meet different requirements that sometimes are conflicting. The main goal of this thesis is to evaluate performance of coordination control algorithms for a group of mobile robots. In the first part of this thesis, a modular framework for simulation and experiments of coordination control of mobile robots is presented. All connections between the modules follow the subscriber/publisher paradigm on the exchanged data, i.e. a component publishes data and other components can subscribe on that data. The data is identified by a named magazine, and actual data packets are called issues of the magazine. By means of simulation and experiments, it is demonstrated how the modularity in the framework allows straightforward modification of system configurations, design parameters, and control algorithms. In the second part, hierarchical coordination control of mobile robots is presented. The hierarchy consists of three layers: a high-level control for motion planning of the robots, a low-level control for motion execution, and a flexible layer to accommodate shifting of responsibilities. One advantage of using a hierarchical approach is the isolation of control design in each layer. Changes in the control strategy of a layer do not necessarily require adaptation of other layers. The proposed control algorithms are used to coordinate a group of unicycle mobile robots that realize the transportation system of an automated warehouse. Using the framework, series of simulations with different design parameters are conducted, as well as real-time experiments. Subsequently, performance analysis of the results is carried out. It is shown that the proposed algorithms are flexible to system changes and scalable to variation in the warehouse demands. The algorithms are robust against failures in the transportation systems. It is found that an algorithm, denoted high-level control, with higher throughputs requires more information sharing between the robots. This algorithm is less robust against failures compared to the algorithm, denoted low-level control, that yields lower throughput. In addition, a cost analysis of the proposed control algorithms is given. It is studied that the cost of realizing the transport using a group of mobile robots, coordinated by the proposed control algorithm, has similar performance-to-cost ratio compared to conveyor systems. This conclusion is very promising having in minds that the proposed control algorithm is not necessarily the optimal one. In the third part, the problem of simultaneous tracking of individual references and formation keeping for a group of mobile robots is investigated. The control algorithm is developed using dynamic feedback linearization. The stability proof is analyzed using the theorem on interconnected systems. Using a root-mean-square-like indicator, the trade off between individual tracking and formation keeping, as well as the influences of communication topologies are analyzed. From the analysis of real-time experiment results, it is found that the best formation keeping is obtained when all robots communicate. As a trade off, this requires a larger communication bandwidth and yields large individual tracking errors. Furthermore, the analysis suggests that to achieve optimal individual tracking and formation keeping simultaneously, there is less need to share information between the robots. In the fourth part, as a complement to the hierarchical control approach, a coordination control algorithm based on Model Predictive Control (MPC) is presented. Focusing on the practical aspects, a sequentially decentralized MPC, i.e. a single MPC computes the control signals of all robots where priority rules are used to determine which robots handled earlier in optimization procedure, is implemented. Using the similar automated warehouse environment, the sequentially decentralized MPC is validated in simulations and real-time experiments. For comparison purposes, a centralized MPC, i.e. a single MPC computes the control signals of all robots, is also implemented. Using completion time as indicators, the influences of the MPC parameters are investigated. It is found that the centralized MPC is better than the sequentially decentralizwed MPC, but with the cost of high computation load and limited number of robots in real-time application. Relevance and performance comparison between the MPC and the hierarchical control approach are presented. It is found that regardless of the control algorithm choices, in terms of completion time, a better performance is obtained when the control algorithm uses information from all robots in computing the control signals.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||6 Sep 2012|
|Place of Publication||Eindhoven|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|