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Information Sharing via Active Sensing in a Multi-Agent System Inspired by Echolocating Bats

[+] Author Affiliations
Yuan Lin, Nicole Abaid

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA

Paper No. DSCC2014-6076, pp. V001T05A002; 9 pages
  • ASME 2014 Dynamic Systems and Control Conference
  • Volume 1: Active Control of Aerospace Structure; Motion Control; Aerospace Control; Assistive Robotic Systems; Bio-Inspired Systems; Biomedical/Bioengineering Applications; Building Energy Systems; Condition Based Monitoring; Control Design for Drilling Automation; Control of Ground Vehicles, Manipulators, Mechatronic Systems; Controls for Manufacturing; Distributed Control; Dynamic Modeling for Vehicle Systems; Dynamics and Control of Mobile and Locomotion Robots; Electrochemical Energy Systems
  • San Antonio, Texas, USA, October 22–24, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Dynamic Systems and Control Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4618-6
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


Current models for multi-agent systems almost exclusively employ sensory modalities such as vision where agents passively receive information from the environment. Active sensing, defined as acquiring environmental information using self-generated signals, allows widespread sharing of sensory information among agents and thus gives rise to more complex interactions within engineered multi-agent systems using radar or sonar, for example. In nature, bat swarms are animal groups that successfully employ active sensing with each individual broadcasting echolocation pulses in the environment and responding to echoes. Bats flying in groups may cope with the dense sound environment through their behavior; one hypothesized strategy is the cessation of echolocation pulses in the presence of peers and “eavesdropping”, which has been demonstrated in controlled laboratory settings. In this work, we build a self-propelled-particle model with each agent avoiding obstacles in three dimensions by emitting echolocation pulses of a unique frequency. We implement a bat-inspired rule of eavesdropping to take advantage of information sharing via active sensing while reducing the energy expenditure of the group. Through a simulation study, we show that agents indeed capitalize on peers’ pulses and echoes for obstacle avoidance and we find a maximum of this effect for a set of model parameters which relate to the domain size.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME



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