Performance and Robustness of Multi-Agent Control Systems

Project: Research

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Multi-agent systems (MASs) seek to cooperate among groups of agents spatially distributed to accomplish a common task, which can be used to facilitate large-scale, wide-area coordinated real-time monitoring, control, information processing, and operation. Enabled by today's information and sensor technologies, MASs find a wide range of applications in civil infrastructures, social networks, industrial systems, commercial operations, and military applications, and are seen to be the building block and backbone of massive interconnected engineering systems such as cyber-physical systems and Internet of Things. This project launches an in-depth investigation into multi-agent control theory, targeting an area of MAS research that is believed to be underdeveloped, and where significant challenges exist and significant advances are needed. Specifically, we address performance and robustness issues of multi-agent cooperative control critical to the design and implementation of MASs. Central to our investigation are four synergistic tasks, consisting of (1) developing performance measures for MASs and multi-agent control, and algorithms for efficient computation of the measures; (2) developing robustness measures of gain, phase, and delay consensus margins for MASs consisting of heterogeneous agent dynamics and heterogeneous communication delays; (3) characterizing the tradeoff between performance and robustness of multi-agent control protocol designs; and (4) conducting numerical simulations and experimental work to validate the theoretical developments. These objectives together constitute a conceptual as well as a technical leap beyond the current state of MAS research, which has been predominantly focused on the design of consensus protocols for asymptotic consensus attainment, with little regard to fundamental performance and robustness analysis. The project aims to advance the MAS theory toward practically oriented goals such as control performance and robustness achievable by MAS-based control. We hold the viewpoint that the results generated from this project will lead to new and better understanding of multi-agent control systems, and potentially to improved design methods and techniques, thus contributing to the advance and application of the multi-agent control theory and benefiting researchers and practicing engineers in the broad field. Built on the PI’s prior successes and ongoing work on networked control and MASs, a coherent technical approach has been carved out, which we believe is highly feasible and may potentially deliver results of significance, answering to some of the key theoretical challenges in the present theory and future applications of multi-agent systems and cooperative control. 


Project number9043349
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/23 → …