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Performance of a distributed robotic system using shared communications channels

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5 Author(s)
Rybski, P.E. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci. & Eng., Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis, MN, USA ; Stoeter, S.A. ; Gini, M. ; Hougen, D.F.
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We have designed and built a set of miniature robots called Scouts and have developed a distributed software system to control them. This paper addresses the fundamental choices we made in the design of the control software, describes experimental results in a surveillance task, and analyzes the factors that affect robot performance. Space and power limitations on the Scouts severely restrict the computational power of their on-board computers, requiring a proxy-processing scheme in which the robots depend on remote computers for their computing needs. While this allows the robots to be autonomous, the fact that robots' behaviors are executed remotely introduces an additional complication-sensor data and motion commands have to be exchanged using wireless communications channels. Communications channels cannot always be shared, thus requiring the robots to obtain exclusive access to them. We present experimental results on a surveillance task in which multiple robots patrol an area and watch for motion. We discuss how the limited communications bandwidth affects robot performance in accomplishing the task, and analyze how performance depends on the number of robots that share the bandwidth.

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Robotics and Automation, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 5 )