Ramchurn, Sarvapali D. (University of Southampton) | Fischer, Joel E (University of Nottingham) | Ikuno, Yuki (University of Southampton) | Wu, Feng (University of Science and Technology of China) | Flann, Jack (University of Southampton) | Waldock, Antony (BAE Systems)
We consider a setting where a team of humans oversee the coordination of multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to perform a number of search tasks in dynamic environments that may cause the UAVs to drop out. Hence, we develop a set of multi-UAV supervisory control interfaces and a multi-agent coordination algorithm to support human decision making in this setting. To elucidate the resulting interactional issues, we compare manual and mixed-initiative task allocation in both static and dynamic environments in lab studies with 40 participants and observe that our mixed-initiative system results in lower workloads and better performance in re-planning tasks than one which only involves manual task allocation. Our analysis points to new insights into the way humans appropriate flexible autonomy.
Task allocation is ubiquitous in computer science and robotics, yet some problems have received limited attention in the computer science and AI community. Specifically, we will focus on multi-robot task allocation problems when tasks have time windows or ordering constraints. We will outline the main lines ofresearch and open problems.
We present a methodology for the deployment of the max-sum algorithm, a well known decentralised algorithm for coordinating autonomous agents, for problems related to situational awareness. In these settings, unmanned autonomous vehicles are deployed to collect information about an unknown environment. Our methodology then helps identify the choices that need to be made to apply the algorithm to these problems. Next, we present a case study where the methodology is used to develop a system for disaster management in which a team of unmanned aerial vehicles coordinate to provide the first responders of the area of a disaster with live aerial imagery. To evaluate this system, we deploy it on two unmanned hexacopters in a variety of scenarios. Our tests show that the system performs well when confronted with the dynamism and the heterogeneity of the real world.
Market or auction based algorithms offer effective methods for de-centralized task assignment in multi-agent teams. Typically there is an implicit assumption that agents are willing to cooperate and can be trusted to perform assigned tasks. Reciprocal collaboration may not always be a valid assumption. In cases where auctions are used for task allocation, without explicit revenue exchange, incentives are needed to enforce cooperation. An approach to incentive based trust is presented, which enables detection of team members that are not contributing and for dynamic formation of teams.
Auctions are promising decentralized methods for teams of agents to allocate and re-allocate tasks among themselves in dynamic, partially known and time-constrained domains with positive or negative synergies among tasks. Auction-based coordination systems are easy to understand, simple to implement and broadly applicable. They promise to be efficient both in communication (since agents communicate only essential summary information) and in computation (since agents compute their bids in parallel). Artificial intelligence research has explored auction-based coordination systems since the early work on contract networks, mostly from an experimental perspective. This overview paper describes our recent progress towards creating a framework for the design and analysis of cooperative auctions for agent coordination.