A Decentralized, Communication-Free Force Distribution method with application to Collective Object Manipulation

[+] Author and Article Information
Shadi Tasdighi Kalat

Mechanical Engieenering Department, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA

Siamak G. Faal

Soft Robotics Laboratory, Robotics Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA

Cagdas D. Onal

Soft Robotics Laboratory, Mechanical Engineering Department, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4039669 History: Received December 30, 2016; Revised March 05, 2018


We present a novel approach to achieve decentralized distribution of forces in a multi-robot system. In this approach, each robot in the group relies on the behavior of a cooperative virtual teammate that is defined independent of the population and formation of the real team. Consequently, such formulation eliminates the need for inter-agent communications or leader-follower architectures. In particular, effectiveness of the method is studied in a collective manipulation problem where the objective is to control the position and orientation of a body in time. To experimentally validate the performance of the proposed method, a new swarm agent, Dr (Delta-Rho) is introduced. A multi-robot system, consisting of five Dr agents is then utilized as the experimental setup. The obtained results are also compared with a norm-optimal centralized controller by quantitative metrics. Experimental results prove the performance of the algorithm in different tested scenarios and demonstrate a scalable, versatile, and robust system-level behavior.

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