Graduation Year

2004

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.C.S.

Degree Granting Department

Computer Science

Major Professor

Murphy, Robin.

Keywords

distributed systems, robotics, Jini, Java, agents

Abstract

This thesis describes the design and implementation of a distributed robot architecture, Distributed Field Robot Architecture. The approach taken in this thesis is threefold. First, the distributed architecture builds on existing hybrid deliberative/reactive architectures used for individual robots rather than creating a distributed architecture that requires re-engineering of existing robots. Second, the distributed layer of the architecture incorporates concepts from artificial intelligence and software agents. Third, the architecture is designed around Suns Jini middleware layer, rather than creating a middleware layer from scratch or attempting to adapt a software agent architecture. This thesis makes three primary contributions, both theoretical and practical, to intelligent robotics. First, the thesis defines key characteristics of a distributed robot architecture. Second, this thesis describes, implements, and validates a distributed robot architecture.

Third, the implementation with a team of mobile ground robots interacting with an external software "mission controller" agent in a complex, outdoor task is itself a contribution. The architecture is validated with three existence proofs. First, an example is presented to show the implementation of a basic sensor service. Second, a basic behavior is presented to validate the reactive portion of the architecture. Finally, an intelligent agent is presented to validate the deliberative layer of the architecture and describe the integration with the distributed layer.

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