Volume 25 (2017) Pages 75-87
We describe a method for decentralized task/area partitioning for coordination in cleaning/sweeping domains with learning to identify the easy-to-dirty areas. Ongoing advances in computer science and robotics have led to applications for covering large areas that require coordinated tasks by multiple control programs including robots. Our study aims at coordination and cooperation by multiple agents, and we discuss it using an example of the cleaning tasks to be performed by multiple agents with potentially different performances and capabilities. We then developed a method for partitioning the target area on the basis of their performances in order to improve the overall efficiency through their balanced collective efforts. Agents, i.e., software for controlling devices and robots, autonomously decide in a cooperative manner how the task/area is partitioned by taking into account the characteristics of the environment and the differences in agents' software capability and hardware performance. During this partitioning process, agents also learn the locations of obstacles and the probabilities of dirt accumulation that express what areas are easy to be dirty. Experimental evaluation showed that even if the agents use different algorithms or have the batteries with different capacities resulting in different performances, and even if the environment is not uniform such as different locations of easy-to-dirty areas and obstacles, the proposed method can adaptively partition the task/area among the agents with the learning of the probabilities of dirt accumulations. Thus, agents with the proposed method can keep the area clean effectively and evenly.