Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Computer and Information Science

First Advisor

Vijay Kumar

Second Advisor

Nathan Michael

Abstract

Multi-robot teams that intelligently gather information have the potential to transform industries as diverse as agriculture, space exploration, mining, environmental monitoring, search and rescue, and construction. Despite large amounts of research effort on active perception problems, there still remain significant challenges. In this thesis, we present a variety of information-theoretic control policies that enable teams of robots to efficiently estimate different quantities of interest. Although these policies are intractable in general, we develop a series of approximations that make them suitable for real time use.

We begin by presenting a unified estimation and control scheme based on Shannon's mutual information that lets small teams of robots equipped with range-only sensors track a single static target. By creating approximate representations, we substantially reduce the complexity of this approach, letting the team track a mobile target. We then scale this approach to larger teams that need to localize a large and unknown number of targets.

We also examine information-theoretic control policies to autonomously construct 3D maps with ground and aerial robots. By using Cauchy-Schwarz quadratic mutual information, we show substantial computational improvements over similar information-theoretic measures. To map environments faster, we adopt a hierarchical planning approach which incorporates trajectory optimization so that robots can quickly determine feasible and locally optimal trajectories. Finally, we present a high-level planning algorithm that enables heterogeneous robots to cooperatively construct maps.

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