Distributed Multi-Robot Learning using Particle Swarm Optimization

This thesis studies the automatic design and optimization of high-performing robust controllers for mobile robots using exclusively on-board resources. Due to the often large parameter space and noisy performance metrics, this constitutes an expensive optimization problem. Population-based learning techniques have been proven to be effective in dealing with noise and are thus promising tools to approach this problem. We focus this research on the Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) algorithm, which, in addition to dealing with noise, allows a distributed implementation, speeding up the optimization process and adding robustness to failure of individual agents. In this thesis, we systematically analyze the different variables that affect the learning process for a multi-robot obstacle avoidance benchmark. These variables include algorithmic parameters, controller architecture, and learning and testing environments. The analysis is performed on experimental setups of increasing evaluation time and complexity: numerical benchmark functions, high-fidelity simulations, and experiments with real robots. Based on this analysis, we apply the distributed PSO framework to learn a more complex, collaborative task: flocking. This attempt to learn a collaborative task in a distributed manner on a large parameter space is, to our knowledge, the first of such kind. In addition, we address the problem of noisy performance evaluations encountered in these robotic tasks and present a %new distributed PSO algorithm for dealing with noise suitable for resource-constrained mobile robots due to its low requirements in terms of memory and limited local communication.

    Keywords: Distributed Learning ; Multi-Robot Systems ; Particle Swarm Optimization

    Thèse École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, n° 6707 (2015)
    Programme doctoral Génie électrique
    Faculté de l'environnement naturel, architectural et construit
    Institut d'ingénierie de l'environnement
    Laboratoire de systèmes et algorithmes intelligents distribués
    Jury: Prof. Colin Neil Jones (président) ; Prof. Alcherio Martinoli (directeur de thèse) ; Prof. Auke Ijspeert, Prof. Luca Gambardella, Dr Roderich Gross (rapporteurs)

    Public defense: 2015-8-21


    Record created on 2015-08-18, modified on 2016-08-09

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