The University of Edinburgh -
Division of Informatics
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Research Paper #955

Title:Improving performance in a multi-robot task through minimal communication
Authors:Carmena,J; Hallam,JC
Date:Jun 1999
Presented:To appear in the Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium on Intelligent Robotic Systems'99 (SIRS) July 20-23, Coimbra, Portugal
Abstract:It is a well known result from economics and mathematical theory that communication can increase group performance. In the real world there are many collective tasks which need a terminating signal to inform the agents about the end of the task. In this work we show an example of how using minimal communication improves task performance in a set of mobile robots while performing a retrieval task. The task is performed by a set of LEGO robots inside an arena, of which a small area is designated the nest, with some polystyrene targets dispersed about the rest of it. The task is to collect the targets and bring them to the nest. The robots are provided with a radio-communication unit which allows them to communicate with each other. Two different experiments are done: A collective task and a cooperative task. For the cooperative task minimal information is shared by the robots using the radio communication unit. Performance of the robots was compared and it was found that increasing the number of robots improved the results obtained for both tasks. Also, the cooperative task was significantly better than the collective task.

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