A fluid dynamics framework for control of mobile robot networks

Paç, Muhammed Raşid
This thesis proposes a framework for controlling mobile robot networks based on a fluid dynamics paradigm. The approach is inspired by natural behaviors of fluids demonstrating desirable characteristics for collective robots. The underlying mathematical formalism is developed through establishing analogies between fluid bodies and multi-robot systems such that robots are modeled as fluid elements that constitute a fluid body. The governing equations of fluid dynamics are adapted to multi-robot systems and applied on control of robots. The model governs flow of a robot based on its local interactions with neighboring robots and surrounding environment. Therefore, it provides a layer of decentralized reactive control on low level behaviors, such as obstacle avoidance, deployment, and flow. These behaviors are inherent to the nature of fluids and provide emergent coordination among robots. The framework also introduces a high-level control layer that can be designed according to requirements of the particular task. Emergence of cooperation and collective behavior can be controlled in this layer via a set of parameters obtained from the mathematical description of the system in the lower layer. Validity and potential of the approach have been experimented through simulations primarily on two common collective robotic tasks; deployment and navigation. It is shown that gas-like mobile sensor networks can provide effective coverage in unknown, unstructured, and dynamically changing environments through self-spreading. On the other hand, robots can also demonstrate directional flow in navigation or path following tasks, showing that a wide range of multi-robot applications can potentially be developed using the framework.


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Citation Formats
M. R. Paç, “A fluid dynamics framework for control of mobile robot networks,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2007.