Distributed algorithms for large-scale robotic ensembles : centrality, synchronization and self-reconfiguration

Abstract : Technological advances especially in the miniaturization of robotic devices foreshadow the emergence of large-scale ensembles of small-size resource-constrained robots that distributively cooperate to achieve complex tasks (e.g., modular self-reconfigurable robots, swarm robotic systems, distributed microelectromechanical systems, etc.). These ensembles are formed from independent, intelligent and communicating units which act as a whole ensemble. These units cooperatively self-organize themselves to achieve common goals. These systems are tought to be more versatile and more robust than conventional robotic systems while having at the same time a lower cost.These ensembles form complex asynchronous distributed systems in which every unit is an embedded system with its own but limited capabilities. Coordination of such large-scale distributed embedded systems poses significant algorithmic issues and open for new opportunities in distributed algorithms. In my thesis, I defend the idea that distributed algorithmic primitives suitable for the coordination of these ensembles should be both identified and designed.In this work, we focus on a specific class of modular robotics systems, namely large-scale distributed modular robotic ensembles composed of resource-constrained modules that are organized in a lattice structure and which can only communicate with neighboring modules. We identified and implemented three building blocks, namely centrality-based leader election, time synchronization and self-reconfiguration.We propose a collection of distributed algorithms to realize these primitives. We evaluate them using both hardware experiments and simulations on systems ranging from a dozen of modules to more than a dozen of thousands of modules. We show that our algorithms scale well and are suitable for large-scale embedded distributed systems with scarce memory and computing resources.
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André Naz. Distributed algorithms for large-scale robotic ensembles : centrality, synchronization and self-reconfiguration. Robotics [cs.RO]. Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017UBFCD027⟩. ⟨tel-01810645⟩

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