By Machado, T.; Malheiro, T.; Monteiro, S.; Erlhagen, W.; Bicho, E.
Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
We present a distributed leader-helper architecture for teams of two autonomous mobile robots that jointly transport large payloads while avoiding collisions with obstacles (either static or dynamic). The leader navigates to the goal destination and the helper is responsible for maintaining an appropriate distance (which is a function of the object's length) to the leader. Both robots share the responsibility of ensuring that the transported object does not collide with obstructions. No path needs to be given a priori to the robots nor to the payload. The team is able to perform its transportation task in unknown environments that can have corridors, corners and may change the layout online. The payload can be of different dimensions. The team is able to cope with abrupt/strong perturbations that challenge the team behavior during the execution of the task. These characteristics make this approach suitable to be deployed in warehouses or office-like environments. The motion of each robot is controlled by a time series asymptotically stable states, which is formalized using the attractor dynamics approach to behavior based robotics. The advantages are: (i) the overt behavior is smooth and stable; (ii) because the behavior is generated as a time sequence of attractor states, for the control variables, it contributes to the overall asymptotically stability of the system that makes it robust against perturbations. We present results of experiments in simulated environments and with real robots in real environments.