An Architecture For Multi-Agent Systems Operating In Soft Real-Time Environments With Unexpected Events
In this thesis, we explore the topic of designing an architecture and processing algorithms for a multi-agent system, where agents need to address potential unexpected events in the environment, operating under soft real-time constraints. We first develop a classification of unexpected events into Opportunities, Barriers and Potential Causes of Failure, and outline the interaction required to support the allocation of tasks for these events. We then propose a hybrid architecture to provide for agent autonomy in the system, employing a central coordinating agent. Certain agents in the community operate autonomously, while others remain under the control of the coordinating agent. The coordinator is able to determine which agents should form teams to address unexpected events in a timely manner, and to oversee those agents as they perform their tasks. The proposed architecture avoids the overhead of negotiation amongst agent teams for the assignment of tasks, a benefit when operating under limited time and resource constraints. It also avoids the bottleneck of having one coordinating agent making all decisions before work can proceed in the community, by allowing some agents to work independently. We illustrate the potential usefulness of the framework by describing an implementation of a simulator loosely based on that used for the RoboCup Rescue Simulation League contest. The implementation provides a set of simulated computers, each running a simple soft real-time operating system. On top of this basic simulation we implement the model described above and test it against two different search-and-rescue scenarios. From our experiments, we observe that our architecture is able to operate in dynamic and real-time environments, and can handle, in an appropriate and timely manner, any unexpected events that occur. We also comment on the value of our proposed approach for designing adjustable autonomy multi-agent systems and for specific environments such as robotics, where reducing the overall level of communication within the system is crucial.
School:University of Waterloo
School Location:Canada - Ontario
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:computer science artificial intelligence multi agent systems adjustable autonomy real time simulation
Date of Publication:01/01/2004