Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Command Language for Single-User, Multi-Robot Swarm Control
by Shultz, Abraham M., Sc.D., University of Massachusetts Lowell, 2019, 327; 13859845
Abstract (Summary)

Command and control systems designed for a single operator to operate a single robot do not scale to control of swarms. Interfaces that require the user to attend to each robot overwhelm the user when the number of robots increases beyond 12 or 13 for uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) and 3-9 for uncrewed ground vehicles (UGVs). As robot swarms increase beyond these bounds, the control system must shift to from controlling individual robots to controlling the swarm as a single entity while permitting easy and understandable control of the swarm.

Previous work in human-robot interaction (HRI) shows that multi-touch in- terfaces allow a scalable and direct mapping between the desires of the user and sequences of commands to robots. This thesis presents an interface that extends previous work on multitouch interfaces for small groups of robots to larger swarms, and automates the process of converting command gestures into programs for each robot. The use of individual control programs rather than centralized control is important to realize the potential of swarms to continue to operate despite the failure of individual swarm robots.

The contributions of this thesis are a new swarm hardware platform, software to support it, and a user interface that converts user commands into programs for each robot in the swarm. The new swarm platform initially combined an Internet of Things (IoT) platform with drivetrains from toys to allow large swarms to be built at a low cost. Ultimately, toys were not sufficiently reliable to serve as mobility platforms, so the controller was applied to 3-D printed chassis. The user interface was defined by allowing users to select the gestures that they would use to issue commands to the swarm. It was discovered that as the size of the swarm increases, the gestures that users choose vary, particularly in the case of selection gestures. The resulting user gesture set, with some modification to remove ambiguity, can be translated into programs for individual robots, but the correctness of these programs is only provable in limited cases.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Yanco, Holly A.
Commitee: McCarthy, Jay A., Nagpal, Radhika
School: University of Massachusetts Lowell
Department: Computer Science
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-B 80/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Electrical engineering, Robotics, Computer science
Keywords: Language, Robots, Swarm control, Swarm robotics, User interface design
Publication Number: 13859845
ISBN: 978-1-392-26364-8
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