Combining coordination mechanisms to improve performance in multi-robot teams

Ehsan Nasroullahi, Kagan Tumer


Coordination is essential to achieving good performance in cooperative multiagent systems. To date, most work has focused on either implicit or explicit coordination mechanisms; while relatively little work has focused on the benefits of combining these two approaches. In this work we demonstrate that combining explicit and implicit mechanisms can significantly improve coordination and system performance over either approach individually. First, we use difference evaluations (which aim to compute an agent’s contribution to the team) and stigmergy to promote implicit coordination. Second, we introduce an explicit coordination mechanism dubbed intended Destination Enhanced Artificial State (IDEAS), where an agent incorporates other agents’ intended destinations directly into its state. The IDEAS approach does not require any formal negotiation between agents, and is based on passive information sharing. Finally, we combine these two approaches on a variant of a team-based multi-robot exploration domain, and show that agents using a both explicit and implicit coordination outperform other learning agents up to 25%.

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Artificial Intelligence Research

ISSN 1927-6974 (Print)   ISSN 1927-6982 (Online)

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