Command and Control
Unlike the insect world, the robotic system must interact with human operators. At a minimum, this interaction includes responding to operator directed tasking and providing status reports on task progress. Ideally, the user should not be required to task individuals, but should be able to abstract group command and control functions. To support this need for high-level command and control,
has developed a hierarchical communication architecture where sergeant robots, specialized for communication, receive commands from the user. The sergeant robots then disseminate commands to the “privates” under their authority. This is done implicitly using a combination of IR communications and acoustic chirping. To utilize these capabilities,
has developed a suite of command and control software called AgentTools that facilitates planning, online tasking and mission control over the robot collective.
The AgentTools architecture includes a suite of modular command and control tools. AgentSim provides systems simulation. AgentCentral, (still under construction) provides a central command station for all infield units. AgentCDR is an operator control unit for interacting with and deploying robotic forces. AgentCDR offers a means to modulate swarm behavior by issuing high-level aggregation/dispersion commands and yields advanced C2 support, which includes including additional human-centric visualization tools, iconographic representation of robots, GUI controlled group assignment, operation planning tools, and system status alerts for communication failure. It also offers a means to modulate swarm behavior by issuing high-level aggregation/dispersion commands.
On the other hand, the privates are not dependent on the sergeants or on the human operator for continuous communication and can function autonomously in the absence of communication sergeant or user input. This flexibility supports mixed initiative control and allows AgentCDR to balance the needs and limitations of the robots, C2 structure, and the human operator(s).