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A multi-agent system is any collection of decision-makers that collaborates on a common task. A distinguishing feature is that communications among agents provide the feedback signals needed for autonomous decision-making. For example, a team of drones may exchange location data and images to jointly map an area. There is now a large literature on multi-agent systems, though practical implementations are often fragile or only done in controlled environments. A fundamental challenge is that agents’ communications in realistic environments can be impaired, e.g., by delays and intermittency, and thus agents must rely on impaired feedback. To transition theory to practice, such systems need novel coordination techniques that are provably resilient to such impairments and validated in practice under realistic conditions.
In this talk, I will cover two recent developments in my group that have successfully transitioned novel theory to practice for multi-agent systems facing asynchronous communications. The first considers a class of geometrically complex coordination tasks – namely those given by constrained nonconvex programs – and provides provable guarantees of performance that are borne out in practice onboard teams of drones. The second considers a class of time-varying task specifications for agents that can change unpredictably. Theoretical results show that agents can complete this class of task under mild restrictions, and validation is provided by a team of lighter-than-air agents in a contested environment.
About the speaker: Matthew Hale is an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida. He received his BSE from the University of Pennsylvania, and he received his MS and PhD from Georgia Tech. His research interests include multi-agent control and optimization, deceptive decision-making, and applications of these methods to drones and other robots. He has received the NSF CAREER Award, ONR YIP, AFOSR YIP, and the Excellence Award for Assistant Professors from the University of Florida (for being one of the 10 most outstanding assistant professors across the university).