Mobile Robot Obstacle Avoidance based on Deep Reinforcement Learning
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Obstacle avoidance is one of the core problems in the field of autonomous navigation. An obstacle avoidance approach is developed for the navigation task of a reconfigurable multi-robot system named STORM, which stands for Self-configurable and Transformable Omni-Directional Robotic Modules. Various mathematical models have been developed in previous work in this field to avoid collision for such robots. In this work, the proposed collision avoidance algorithm is trained via Deep Reinforcement Learning, which enables the robot to learn by itself from its experiences, and then fit a mathematical model by updating the parameters of a neural network. The trained neural network architecture is capable of choosing an action directly based on the input sensor data using the trained neural network architecture. A virtual STORM locomotion module was trained to explore a Gazebo simulation environment without collision, using the proposed collision avoidance strategies based on DRL. The mathematical model of the avoidance algorithm was derived from the simulation and then applied to the prototype of the locomotion module and validated via experiments. Universal software architecture was also designed for the STORM modules. The software architecture has extensible and reusable features that improve the design efficiency and enable parallel development.
General Audience Abstract
In this thesis, an obstacle avoidance approach is described to enable autonomous navigation of a reconfigurable multi-robot system, STORM. The Self-configurable and Transformable Omni-Directional Robotic Modules (STORM) is a novel approach towards heterogeneous swarm robotics. The system has two types of robotic modules, namely the locomotion module and the manipulation module. Each module is able to navigate and perform tasks independently. In addition, the systems are designed to autonomously dock together to perform tasks that the modules individually are unable to accomplish. The proposed obstacle avoidance approach is designed for the modules of STORM, but can be applied to mobile robots in general. In contrast to the existing collision avoidance approaches, the proposed algorithm was trained via deep reinforcement learning (DRL). This enables the robot to learn by itself from its experiences, and then fit a mathematical model by updating the parameters of a neural network. In order to avoid damage to the real robot during the learning phase, a virtual robot was trained inside a Gazebo simulation environment with obstacles. The mathematical model for the collision avoidance strategy obtained through DRL was then validated on a locomotion module prototype of STORM. This thesis also introduces the overall STORM architecture and provides a brief overview of the generalized software architecture designed for the STORM modules. The software architecture has expandable and reusable features that apply well to the swarm architecture while allowing for design efficiency and parallel development.
- Masters Theses