Using a group of robots in place of a single complex robot to accomplish a complex task has many benefits such as redundancy and robustness, faster completion times, and the ability to be everywhere at once. The applications of such systems are wide and varied, including search and rescue, surveillance, and environmental monitoring. These missions demand different roles for robots, necessitating a strategy for coordinated autonomy while respecting any constraints the particular environment or other team members may impose. As a result, current solutions for multirobot systems are often task- and environment-specific, requiring hand-tuning and an expert in the loop. This limits their use and results in challenges in deployment such as inflexibility, reduced situational awareness, and the need for multiple operators.
In this talk I will present approaches for automatically synthesized feedback policies for navigating groups of robots in such constrained environments. These approaches automatically and concurrently solve the task assignment, path planning, and control synthesis problems, and are specified at a high level, for example, using an iPad interface to navigate a complex environment with a team of UAVs. This results in controllers that are easy to specify, flexible to user input, require no hand-tuning, and are guaranteed to satisfy the constraints of the environment and problem. I will also present some preliminary work on an innovative approach to developing novel interaction methods and feedback policies for many types of multirobot tasks, by using crowdsourced multi-player games.
Nora Ayanian is a Gabilan Assistant Professor of Computer Science at University of Southern California. Her research focuses on creating end-to-end solutions for coordinating teams of robots that start from high-level specifications and deliver code for individual robots in the team, such as using simple multitouch inputs to control a team of UAVs. Her approach to multirobot systems creates unified solutions that concurrently address task assignment, path planning, and control, and that are broadly applicable across all aspects of multirobot systems and mobile sensor networks. Ayanian’s work received the best student paper award at ICRA 2008, and recently, best paper in the robotics track at ICAPS 2016. In 2013 she was named one of IEEE Intelligent Systems “AI's 10 to watch” and in 2015, she was selected for Mic.com’s list of 50 influential millennials. Ayanian is a co-founder and current co-chair of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Technical Committee on Multi-Robot Systems. The work presented in this talk was funded by the Office of Naval Research, the Army Research Lab, and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award.