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Learning of Coordination Policies for Robotic Swarms

by   Qiyang Li, et al.

Inspired by biological swarms, robotic swarms are envisioned to solve real-world problems that are difficult for individual agents. Biological swarms can achieve collective intelligence based on local interactions and simple rules; however, designing effective distributed policies for large-scale robotic swarms to achieve a global objective can be challenging. Although it is often possible to design an optimal centralized strategy for smaller numbers of agents, those methods can fail as the number of agents increases. Motivated by the growing success of machine learning, we develop a deep learning approach that learns distributed coordination policies from centralized policies. In contrast to traditional distributed control approaches, which are usually based on human-designed policies for relatively simple tasks, this learning-based approach can be adapted to more difficult tasks. We demonstrate the efficacy of our proposed approach on two different tasks, the well-known rendezvous problem and a more difficult particle assignment problem. For the latter, no known distributed policy exists. From extensive simulations, it is shown that the performance of the learned coordination policies is comparable to the centralized policies, surpassing state-of-the-art distributed policies. Thereby, our proposed approach provides a promising alternative for real-world coordination problems that would be otherwise computationally expensive to solve or intangible to explore.


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