In this article, we introduced a flexible teamwork structure for periodic team synchronization (PTS) domains and a communication paradigm effective in domains with low-bandwidth, single-channel, unreliable communication.
The teamwork structure allows for multi-agent tasks using homogeneous agents to be decomposed into flexible roles. Roles are organized into formations, and agents can fill any role in any formation. Agents dynamically change roles and formations in response to changing environments. The teamwork structure includes pre-planning for frequent situations, and agents act individually, but keep the team's goals in mind. This flexible teamwork structure builds upon our team member agent architecture, which maintains both an internal and world state, and a set of internal and external behaviors. Coordination is achieved through limited communication and pre-determined procedures as part of a locker-room agreement.
In domains with low-bandwidth, single-channel, unreliable communication, several issues arise that need not be considered in most multi-agent domains. We have identified these issues and presented a communication paradigm which successfully addresses these challenges. Like the teamwork structure, the communication paradigm is defined within the locker-room agreement.
Both the teamwork structure and the communication paradigm are situated within a team member agent architecture. The locker-room agreement is a central component of this architecture.
We presented a full implementation of our innovations in the simulated robotic soccer domain. Our flexible teamwork structure approach was developed in simulation and subsequently also successfully used on real robots. Using this teamwork structure as well as the presented communication paradigm, the CMUnited-97 simulator team made it to the semi-finals of RoboCup-97. The real robot team, using the flexible teamwork structure, won the small-size, real-robot, RoboCup-97 world championship.