Faculty Candidate Seminar

Diversity and Resilience in Robot Networks

Amanda ProrokPostdoctoral ResearcherUniversity of Pennsylvania

Recent years have seen falling costs of communication and storage technologies and advances in fabrication methods. Sensors, actuators, and processors are being integrated into globally accessible information networks. These trends are promoting a profusion of networked robotic platforms with distinct features and unique capabilities. As we aspire to harness this diverse array of robots to solve increasingly complex problems, heterogeneity and diversity become design features. However, we still lack a fundamental understanding of how to compose and control large-scale systems of heterogeneous robots. Moreover, as we program diverse robots to exploit their technical complementarities, we create interdependencies and critical links. Such collaborative algorithms give rise to failure dynamics and internal threats, creating an urgent need for new resilient mechanisms.

I begin my talk by formalizing diversity in the context of dynamic task allocation for large-scale heterogeneous multi-robot systems. In light of this setting, I show how optimal control policies are impacted by the heterogeneity of the robot team. In the second part of the talk, my focus shifts to the question of how to provide resilience to internal failures through precautionary collaboration mechanisms. By building on foundational concepts of network science and security, I show how we can achieve resilience, allowing robot teams to function in the presence of defective and/or malicious robots. Finally, I consider the importance of providing system-wide protection mechanisms, and introduce some new ideas that touch upon privacy.
Amanda Prorok is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, where she works with Prof. Vijay Kumar on heterogeneous networked robotic systems. She completed her PhD at EPFL, Switzerland, where she addressed the topic of localization with ultra-wideband sensing for robotic networks. Her dissertation was awarded the Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) award for the best thesis at EPFL in the fields of Computer Sciences, Automatics and Telecommunications. She was selected as an MIT Rising Star in 2015, and won a Best Paper Award at the 9th International Conference on Bio-inspired Information and Communications Technologies, 2015.

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