Towards Enabling the Next Generation of Edge Controlled Robotic Systems

Sammanfattning: This thesis introduces a novel framework for edge robotics, enabling the advancement of edge-connected and controlled robots. Autonomous robots, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), generate vast amounts of multi-sensor data and rely on complex algorithms. However, their computational requirements often necessitate large onboard computing units, limiting their flight time and payload capacity. This work presents a key contribution towards the development of frameworks that facilitate offloading computational processes from robots to edge computing clusters. Specifically, we focus on offloading computationally intensive Model Predictive Control (MPC) algorithms for UAV trajectory control. To address the time-critical nature of these procedures, we also consider latency and safety measures. By leveraging edge computing, we can achieve the required computational capacity while minimizing communication latency, making it a promising solution for such missions. Furthermore, edge computing enhances the performance and efficiency of MPCs compared to traditional onboard computers. We evaluate this improvement and compare it to conventional approaches. Additionally, we leverage Docker Images and Kubernetes Clusters to take advantage of their features, enabling fast and easy deployment, operability, and migrations of the MPC instances. Kubernetes automates, monitors, and orchestrates the system’s behavior, while the controller applications become highly portable without extensive software dependencies. This thesis focuses on developing real architectures for offloading MPCs either for controlling the trajectory of single robots or multi-agent systems, while utilizing both on-premises small-scale edge computing setups and edge computing providers like the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) in Luleå. Extensive simulations and real-life experimental setups support the results and assumptions presented in this work.

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