Cooperative control of systems with variable network topologies
Whittington, William Grant
MetadataShow full item record
Automation has become increasingly prevalent in all forms of society. Activities that are too difficult for a human or to dangerous can be done by machines which do not share those downsides. In addition, tasks can be scheduled more precisely and accurately. Increases in the autonomy have allowed for a new level of tasks which are completed by teams of automated agents rather than a single one, called cooperative control. This has many benefits; but comes at the cost of increased complexity and coordination. The main thrust of research in this field is problem based, considering communication issues as a secondary feature. There is a gap considering problems in which many changes occur as rapidly as communication and the issues that arise as a result. This is the main motivation. This research presents an approach to cooperative control in highly variable systems and tackles some of the issues present in such a system. One of the most important issues is the communication network itself, which is used as an indicator for how healthy the system is an how well it may react to future changes. Therefore using the network as an input to control allows the system to navigate between conservative and aggressive techniques to improve performance while still maintaining robustness. Results are based on a test bed designed to simulate a wide variety of problem types based on: network type; numbers of actors; frequency of changes; impact of changes and method of change. The developed control method is compared to the baseline case ignoring cooperation as well as an idealized case assuming perfect system knowledge. The baseline represents sacrifices coordination to achieve a high level of robustness at reduced performance while the idealized case represents the best possible performance. The control techniques developed give a performance at least as good as the baseline case if not better for all simulations.