Programming and Deployment of Autonomous Swarms using Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning

by   Jayson Boubin, et al.

Autonomous systems (AS) carry out complex missions by continuously observing the state of their surroundings and taking actions toward a goal. Swarms of AS working together can complete missions faster and more effectively than single AS alone. To build swarms today, developers handcraft their own software for storing, aggregating, and learning from observations. We present the Fleet Computer, a platform for developing and managing swarms. The Fleet Computer provides a programming paradigm that simplifies multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) – an emerging class of algorithms that coordinate swarms of agents. Using just two programmer-provided functions Map() and Eval(), the Fleet Computer compiles and deploys swarms and continuously updates the reinforcement learning models that govern actions. To conserve compute resources, the Fleet Computer gives priority scheduling to models that contribute to effective actions, drawing a novel link between online learning and resource management. We developed swarms for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in agriculture and for video analytics on urban traffic. Compared to individual AS, our swarms achieved speedup of 4.4X using 4 UAV and 62X using 130 video cameras. Compared to a competing approach for building swarms that is widely used in practice, our swarms were 3X more effective, using 3.9X less energy.



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