Decentralized Multi-Robot Cooperation with Auctioned POMDPs

AAAI Conferences

Planning under uncertainty faces a scalability problem when considering multi-robot teams, as the information space scales exponentially with the number of robots. To address this issue, this paper proposes to decentralize multi-robot Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes (POMDPs) while maintaining cooperation between robots by using POMDP policy auctions. Auctions provide a flexible way of coordinating individual policies modeled by POMDPs and have low communication requirements. Additionally, communication models in the multi-agent POMDP literature severely mismatch with real inter-robot communication. We address this issue by exploiting a decentralized data fusion method in order to efficiently maintain a joint belief state among the robots. The paper presents results in two different applications: environmental monitoring with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs); and cooperative tracking, in which several robots have to jointly track a moving target of interest.

Probabilistic Planning for Decentralized Multi-Robot Systems

AAAI Conferences

Multi-robot systems are an exciting application domain for AI research and Dec-POMDPs, specifically. MacDec-POMDP methods can produce high-quality general solutions for realistic heterogeneous multi-robot coordination problems by automatically generating control and communication policies, given a model. In contrast to most existing multi-robot methods that are specialized to a particular problem class, our approach can synthesize policies that exploit any opportunities for coordination that are present in the problem, while balancing uncertainty, sensor information, and information about other agents.

Planning for Decentralized Control of Multiple Robots Under Uncertainty Artificial Intelligence

We describe a probabilistic framework for synthesizing control policies for general multi-robot systems, given environment and sensor models and a cost function. Decentralized, partially observable Markov decision processes (Dec-POMDPs) are a general model of decision processes where a team of agents must cooperate to optimize some objective (specified by a shared reward or cost function) in the presence of uncertainty, but where communication limitations mean that the agents cannot share their state, so execution must proceed in a decentralized fashion. While Dec-POMDPs are typically intractable to solve for real-world problems, recent research on the use of macro-actions in Dec-POMDPs has significantly increased the size of problem that can be practically solved as a Dec-POMDP. We describe this general model, and show how, in contrast to most existing methods that are specialized to a particular problem class, it can synthesize control policies that use whatever opportunities for coordination are present in the problem, while balancing off uncertainty in outcomes, sensor information, and information about other agents. We use three variations on a warehouse task to show that a single planner of this type can generate cooperative behavior using task allocation, direct communication, and signaling, as appropriate.

Exploiting Coordination Locales in Distributed POMDPs via Social Model Shaping

AAAI Conferences

Distributed POMDPs provide an expressive framework for modeling multiagent collaboration problems, but NEXP-Complete complexity hinders their scalability and application in real-world domains. This paper introduces a subclass of distributed POMDPs, and TREMOR, an algorithm to solve such distributed POMDPs. The primary novelty of TREMOR is that agents plan individually with a single agent POMDP solver and use social model shaping to implicitly coordinate with other agents. Experiments demonstrate that TREMOR can provide solutions orders of magnitude faster than existing algorithms while achieving comparable, or even superior, solution quality.

Decentralized Control of Cooperative Systems: Categorization and Complexity Analysis

AAAI Conferences

The difficulty in solving optimally such problems arises when the agents lack full observability of the global state of the system when they operate. The general problem has been shown to be NEXP-complete. In this paper, we identify classes of decentralized control problems whose complexity ranges between NEXP and P. In particular, we study problems characterized by independent transitions, independent observations, and goal-oriented objective functions. Two algorithms are shown to solve optimally useful classes of goal-oriented decentralized processes in polynomial time. This paper also studies information sharing among the decision-makers, which can improve their performance. We distinguish between three ways in which agents can exchange information: indirect communication, direct communication and sharing state features that are not controlled by the agents. Our analysis shows that for every class of problems we consider, introducing direct or indirect communication does not change the worst-case complexity. The results provide a better understanding of the complexity of decentralized control problems that arise in practice and facilitate the development of planning algorithms for these problems.