The objective of this research is to study such properties of classes of cooperative multi-agent systems as stability, performance, and robustness. Multi-agent systems such as vehicle platoons and coupled oscillators can display emergent behavior that is difficult to predict from the behavior of individual subsystems. The approach is to develop and extend the theory of fundamental design limitations to cover multi-agent systems that communicate over both physical and virtual communication links. The theory will further describe known phenomena, such as string instability, and extend the analysis to other systems, such as harmonic oscillators. The theory will be tested and validated in the Michigan Embedded Control Systems Laboratory. The intellectual merit of the proposed research will be the development of tools that delineate tradeoffs between performance and feedback properties for control systems involving mixes of human and computer agents and classes of hardware dynamics, controllers, and network topology. The contribution to system behavior of each agent's realization in hardware (constrained by Newton's laws) and realization in software and communications (subject to the constraints discovered by Shannon and Bode) will be assessed. The broader impacts of the proposed research will be a significant impact on teaching, both at the University of Michigan and at ETH Zurich. At each school, popular teaching laboratories allow over 100 students per year, from diverse backgrounds, to learn concepts from the field of embedded networked distributed control systems. New families of haptic devices will enable the research to be transferred into these teaching laboratories.
Performance Period: 09/15/2010 - 08/31/2015
Institution: University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Award Number: 1035271