Multi-robot systems (MRS) are sets of intelligent and autonomous mobile robots that are assumed to cooperate in order to carry out collective missions (Arai, Pagello, & Parker, 2002; Cao, Fukunaga, & Kahng, 1997; Rocha, Dias, & Carvalho, 2005). Due to the expendability of individual robots, MRS may substitute humans in risky scenarios (Maimone et al., 1998; Mataric & Sukhatme, 2001; Parker, 1998; Thrun et al. 2003). In other scenarios, they may relieve people from collective tasks that are intrinsically monotonous and repetitive. MRS are the solution to automate missions that are either inherently distributed in time, space, or functionality.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Distributed Control: A control paradigm for multirobot systems whereby every robot participates in the team’s decisions, in the absence of any central controller or hierarchy.
Multirobot System: A set of intelligent and autonomous mobile robots that are assumed to cooperate in order to carry out collective missions.
Communication: Interaction involving two or more entities that exchange information, especially information that is relevant to the involved entities.
Cooperation: Joint behavior of a group of similar but not necessarily homogeneous entities which interact through different forms of communication, whether implicit or explicit, so as to barter resources and information and carry out collective missions that are not usually feasible by a single entity, or wherein a team may attain better performance.
Information Utility: How much a piece of information is relevant to the context it refers to and how much it differs from other similar pieces of information (nonredundancy) and contributes to reduce uncertainty.
Volumetric Map: A representation model which integrates noisy measurements obtained with range sensors at different instant times or locations, so as to accumulate statistical evidence about the occupancy of a 3-D environment.
Awareness: The extent to which a robot is aware of the state and goals of other robots of a multi-robot system.