Control of multi-agent networks: from network design to decentralized coordination
Twu, Philip Y.
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This dissertation presents a suite of design tools for multi-agent systems that address three main areas: network design, decentralized controller generation, and the synthesis of decentralized control strategies by combining individual decentralized controllers. First, a new metric for quantifying heterogeneity in multi-agent systems is presented based on combining different notions of entropy, and is shown to overcome the drawbacks associated with existing diversity metrics in various scientific fields. Moreover, a new method of controlling multi-agent networks through the single-leader network paradigm is presented where by directly exploiting the homogeneity of agent capabilities, a network which is not completely controllable can be driven closer to a desired target configuration than by using traditional control techniques. An algorithm is presented for generating decentralized control laws that allow for agents to best satisfy a desired global objective, while taking into account network topological constraints and limitations on how agents can compute their control signals. Then, a scripting tool is developed to aid in specifying sequences of decentralized controllers to be executed consecutively, while helping ensure that the required network topological requirements needed for each controller to execute properly are maintained throughout mode switches. Finally, the underlying concepts behind the developed tools are showcased in three example applications: distributed merging and spacing for heterogeneous aircraft during terminal approaches, collaborative multi-UAV convoy protection in dynamic environments, and an educational tool used to teach a graduate-level networked controls course at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
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