Stephan, James Edward
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PublicationCommunication Aware Mobile Robot Teams(2015-01-01) Stephan, James EdwardThe type of scenarios that could benefit from a team of robots that are able to self configure into an ad-hoc multi-hop mobile communication network while completing a task in an unknown environment, range from search and rescue in a partially collapsed building to providing a security perimeter around a region of interest. In this thesis, we present a hybrid system that enables a team of robots to maintain a prescribed end-to-end data rate while moving through a complex unknown environment, in a distributed manner, to complete a specific task. This is achieved by a systematic decomposition of the real-time situational awareness problem into subproblems that can be efficiently solved by distributed optimization. The validity of this approach is demonstrated through multiple simulations and experiments in which the a team of robots is able to accurately map an unknown environment and then transition to complete a traditional situational awareness task. We also present MCTP, a lightweight communication protocol that is specifically designed for use in ad-hoc multi-hop wireless networks composed of low-cost low-power transceivers. This protocol leverages the spatial diversity found in mobile robot teams as well as recently developed robust routing systems designed to minimize the variance of the end-to-end communication link. The combination of the hybrid system and MCTP results in a system that is able to complete a task, with minimal global coordination, while providing near loss-less communication over an ad-hoc multi-hop network created by the members of the team in unknown environments.