Dani Goldberg, Maja J. Mataric
Designing and implementing cooperative group behaviors for robots is considered something of a black art involving an extensive amount of reprogramming and parameter adjustment. What seems to be lacking is a pragmatic, practical, general-purpose tool that would both guide the design and structure the evaluation of controllers for distributed real-world multi-robot tasks. In this paper, we propose the use of interference between robots as one such simple tool for designing and evaluating multi-robot controllers. We explore how key issues in multi-robot control can be addressed using interference, a directly measurable property of a multi-robot system. We discuss how behavior arbitration schemes, i.e., the choice of controllers, can be made and adjusted using interference. As an experimental example, we demonstrate three different implementations of a collection clean-up (foraging) task using four physical mobile robots, and present analyses of the experimental data gathered from trials of all three implementations.