Monitoring a Dynamic Environment with a Group of Sensing Robots

Mac Schwager
Multi-robot Systems Lab (MSL)
Boston University

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Abstract: This talk will discuss the problem of multi-robot active estimation, in which sensing robots must control their motion in order to gather the most valuable information about a time-changing environment. I will cast this as a stochastic optimal control problem where the robots' objective function is to minimize the expected entropy of an environment state estimate formed from a recursive Bayesian filter. I will discuss the prohibitive complexity of solving this problem in general, and will consider two solutions for special cases.  The first is a myopic heuristic in which robots follow the gradient of mutual information. The second is to consider periodic trajectories which, in the case of a linear-Gaussian environment model, can be arbitrarily close to the optimal solution. I will present an iterative randomized trajectory planner which finds periodic trajectories whose cost monotonically decreases in the number of iterations. Efforts toward overcoming the challenges of decentralization and scalability will also be discussed.  

Bio:  Mac Schwager is an assistant professor in the Department of MechanicalEngineering and the Division of Systems Engineering, and the director of the Multi-robot Systems Lab (MSL) at Boston University. He obtained his PhD degree from MIT in 2009, his MS degree from MIT in 2005, and his BS degree in 2000 from Stanford University. His research interests are in distributed algorithms for control, perception, and learning in groups of robots and animals. He received the NSF CAREER award in 2014. 

March 28, 2014

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