Active fault tolerance is essential for robot swarms to retain long-term autonomy. Previous work on swarm fault tolerance focuses on reacting to electro-mechanical faults that are spontaneously injected into robot sensors and actuators. Resolving faults once they have manifested as failures is an inefficient approach, and there are some safety-critical scenarios in which any kind of robot failure is unacceptable. We propose a predictive approach to fault tolerance, based on the principle of preemptive maintenance, in which potential faults are autonomously detected and resolved before they manifest as failures. Our approach is shown to improve swarm performance and prevent robot failure in the cases tested.
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Accuracy and stability are common requirements for Quadrotor trajectory tracking systems. Designing an accurate and stable tracking controller remains challenging, particularly in unknown and dynamic environments with complex aerodynamic disturbances. We propose a Quantile-approximation-based Distributional-reinforced Uncertainty Estimator (QuaDUE) to accurately identify the effects of aerodynamic disturbances, i.e., the uncertainties between the true and estimated Control Contraction Metrics (CCMs). Taking inspiration from contraction theory and integrating the QuaDUE for uncertainties, our novel CCM-based trajectory tracking framework tracks any feasible reference trajectory precisely whilst guaranteeing exponential convergence. More importantly, the convergence and training acceleration of the distributional RL are guaranteed and analyzed, respectively, from theoretical perspectives. We also demonstrate our system under unknown and diverse aerodynamic forces. Under large aerodynamic forces (>2m/s^2), compared with the classic data-driven approach, our QuaDUE-CCM achieves at least a 56.6% improvement in tracking error. Compared with QuaDRED-MPC, a distributional RL-based approach, QuaDUE-CCM achieves at least a 3 times improvement in contraction rate.
* 18 pages, 9 figures, Quadrotor trajectory tracking, Learning-based
This paper presents a novel trajectory tracker for autonomous quadrotor navigation in dynamic and complex environments. The proposed framework integrates a distributional Reinforcement Learning (RL) estimator for unknown aerodynamic effects into a Stochastic Model Predictive Controller (SMPC) for trajectory tracking. Aerodynamic effects derived from drag forces and moment variations are difficult to model directly and accurately. Most current quadrotor tracking systems therefore treat them as simple `disturbances' in conventional control approaches. We propose Quantile-approximation-based Distributional Reinforced-disturbance-estimator, an aerodynamic disturbance estimator, to accurately identify disturbances, i.e., uncertainties between the true and estimated values of aerodynamic effects. Simplified Affine Disturbance Feedback is employed for control parameterization to guarantee convexity, which we then integrate with a SMPC to achieve sufficient and non-conservative control signals. We demonstrate our system to improve the cumulative tracking errors by at least 66% with unknown and diverse aerodynamic forces compared with recent state-of-the-art. Concerning traditional Reinforcement Learning's non-interpretability, we provide convergence and stability guarantees of Distributional RL and SMPC, respectively, with non-zero mean disturbances.
Unmapped areas and aerodynamic disturbances render autonomous navigation with quadrotors extremely challenging. To fly safely and efficiently, trajectory planners and trackers must be able to navigate unknown environments with unpredictable aerodynamic effects in real-time. When encountering aerodynamic effects such as strong winds, most current approaches to quadrotor trajectory planning and tracking will not attempt to deviate from a determined plan, even if it is risky, in the hope that any aerodynamic disturbances can be resisted by a robust controller. This paper presents a novel systematic trajectory planning and tracking framework for autonomous quadrotors. We propose a Kinodynamic Jump Space Search (Kino-JSS) to generate a safe and efficient route in unknown environments with aerodynamic disturbances. A real-time Gaussian Process is employed to model the effects of aerodynamic disturbances, which we then integrate with a Model Predictive Controller to achieve efficient and accurate trajectory optimization and tracking. We demonstrate our system to improve the efficiency of trajectory generation in unknown environments by up to 75\% in the cases tested, compared with recent state-of-the-art. We also demonstrate that our system improves the accuracy of tracking in selected environments with unpredictable aerodynamic effects.
* 7pages, 8 figures, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and
Automation 2022, accepted