Decentralised Active Perception in Continuous Action Spaces for the Coordinated Escort Problem

by   Rhett Hull, et al.
University of Technology Sydney
U.S. Navy
Australian Government Department of Defence

We consider the coordinated escort problem, where a decentralised team of supporting robots implicitly assist the mission of higher-value principal robots. The defining challenge is how to evaluate the effect of supporting robots' actions on the principal robots' mission. To capture this effect, we define two novel auxiliary reward functions for supporting robots called satisfaction improvement and satisfaction entropy, which computes the improvement in probability of mission success, or the uncertainty thereof. Given these reward functions, we coordinate the entire team of principal and supporting robots using decentralised cross entropy method (Dec-CEM), a new extension of CEM to multi-agent systems based on the product distribution approximation. In a simulated object avoidance scenario, our planning framework demonstrates up to two-fold improvement in task satisfaction against conventional decoupled information gathering.The significance of our results is to introduce a new family of algorithmic problems that will enable important new practical applications of heterogeneous multi-robot systems.


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