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Thesis Defense - Shucker

Control of Distributed Robotic Macrosensors
Brian Shucker
Computer Science PhD Candidate
8/11/2006
10:00am-12:00pm

This research focuses on a novel, fully decentralized control mechanism for distributed robotic macrosensors (DRMs). DRMs are comprised of large numbers of sensor-equipped, inexpensive mobile robots, in which the desired large-scale properties of the system emerge from simple pair-wise interactions of its component robots. Robots in the macrosensor interact with their immediate neighbors using a dynamic virtual spring mesh abstraction, which is governed by a simple physics model. By carefully defining the nature of the spring mesh and the associated physics model, it is possible to create a number of desirable global behaviors without any global control or configuration. Properties of the resulting macrosensor include arbitrary scalability, the ability to function in complex environments, sophisticated target tracking ability, and inherent fault tolerance. Simulation results are presented to show the effectiveness of the spring mesh approach. To prove the stability of the spring mesh system, a new analytical technique is developed; this technique has broad applications to distributed control systems beyond spring mesh applications. Finally, the simulated and theoretical results are validated with limited hardware tests using a small fleet of mobile robots.

Committee: John Bennett, Professor (Chair)
Richard Han, Assistant Professor
Alexander Wolf, Professor
John Black, Assistant Professor
Brian Argrow, Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences
Duong Nguyen, Raytheon Company
Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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