Planning and Control of Cooperative Multi-Agent Manipulator-Endowed Systems

Abstract: Multi-agent planning and control is an active and increasingly studied topic of research, with many practical applications, such as rescue missions, security, surveillance, and transportation. More specifically, cases that involve complex manipulator-endowed systems  deserve extra attention due to potential complex cooperative manipulation tasks and their interaction with the environment. This thesis addresses the problem of cooperative motion- and task-planning of multi-agent and multi-agent-object systems under complex specifications expressed as temporal logic formulas. We consider manipulator-endowed robotic agents that can coordinate in order to perform, among other tasks, cooperative object manipulation/transportation. Our approach is based on the integration of tools from the following areas: multi-agent systems, cooperative object manipulation, discrete abstraction design of multi-agent-object systems, and formal verification. More specifically, we divide the main problem into three different parts.The first part is devoted to the control design for the formation control of a team of rigid-bodies, motivated by its application to cooperative manipulation schemes. We propose decentralized control protocols such that desired position and orientation-based formation between neighboring agents is achieved. Moreover, inter-agent collisions and connectivity breaks are guaranteed to be avoided. In the second part, we design continuous control laws explicitly for the cooperative manipulation/transportation of an object by a team of robotic agents. Firstly, we propose robust decentralized controllers for the trajectory tracking of the object's center of mass.  Secondly, we design model predictive control-based controllers for the transportation of the object with collision and singularity constraints. In the third part, we design discrete representations of multi-agent continuous systems and synthesize hybrid controllers for the satisfaction of complex tasks expressed as temporal logic formulas. We achieve this by combining the results of the previous parts and by proposing appropriate trajectory tracking- and potential field-based continuous control laws for the transitions of the agents among the discrete states. We consider teams of unmanned aerial vehicles and mobile manipulators as well as multi-agent-object systems where the specifications of the objects are also taken into account.Numerical simulations and experimental results verify the claimed results.