Component-based Architectures and Synthesis for Collaborating Groups of Small Autonomous Platforms
Date: May 03 - May 08, 2010
We consider collaborative autonomous control and operation of groups of small autonomous vehicles. We describe the constraints that “small” imposes on such problems with emphasis on energy, communication, memory and computation. We describe our approach and results that emphasize opportunistic communications, event-driven control, multi-modal collaborative sensing, perception-learning-cognition-learning, distributed real-time operation. Our approach follows a quantitative systems engineering methodology that starts from the system requirements and proceeds iteratively in developing system architectures and performing system tradeoffs. Several innovative design principles emerge that are unique to groups of small platforms. We also highlight several results on fundamental limitations of system performance that underlie these principles. Modularity and module adaptability and exchange emerge as fundamental principles, albeit in some new and unexpected ways. This new view of modularity is supported by examples in biology. We illustrate the results via a simple example of a small group of hybrid (ground and air) small platforms that perform collaborative tasks in a constrained in-building environment.