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Applied Bionics and Biomechanics
Volume 3, Issue 3, Pages 179-189
http://dx.doi.org/10.1533/abbi.2006.0027

A Multi-Agent Control Architecture for a Robotic Wheelchair

C. Galindo, A. Cruz-Martin, J. L. Blanco, J. A. Fernńndez-Madrigal, and J. Gonzalez

E. T. S. I. Informática – Universidad de Málaga, Campus Teatinos, 29071 Malaga, Spain

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Assistant robots like robotic wheelchairs can perform an effective and valuable work in our daily lives. However, they eventually may need external help from humans in the robot environment (particularly, the driver in the case of a wheelchair) to accomplish safely and efficiently some tricky tasks for the current technology, i.e. opening a locked door, traversing a crowded area, etc. This article proposes a control architecture for assistant robots designed under a multi-agent perspective that facilitates the participation of humans into the robotic system and improves the overall performance of the robot as well as its dependability. Within our design, agents have their own intentions and beliefs, have different abilities (that include algorithmic behaviours and human skills) and also learn autonomously the most convenient method to carry out their actions through reinforcement learning. The proposed architecture is illustrated with a real assistant robot: a robotic wheelchair that provides mobility to impaired or elderly people.