Dynamic task allocation in an uncertain environment with heterogeneous multi-agents

  • Hebah ElGibreenEmail author
  • Kamal Youcef-Toumi


Dynamic task allocation (DTA) is a key feature in collaborative robotics. It affects organizations’ profits and allows agents to perform more tasks when efficiently designed. Although some work has been done on DTA, allocating tasks dynamically in an uncertain environment between heterogeneous multi-agents has rarely been investigated. The solutions proposed so far have inefficiently managed uncertainty, and none of them has utilized the semantics of heterogeneous agents’ capabilities. Studies measuring the performance of these techniques on real robots are also scarce. Therefore, this paper proposes an online DTA method, which introduces new functionalities that can be applied in a real environment. In particular, an uncertain incremental cost function is developed with a distributed semantic negotiation strategy that reflects heterogeneous capabilities without needing to communicate them. The proposed method is tested in a dynamic environment and experiments on heterogeneous real/virtual robots are conducted with different numbers of agents. Different statistical and visualization tools are used to analyze the results, including bar graphs for the waiting time metrics, histograms for the waiting time frequency, scatter plots for the result distribution and variance, and critical difference diagrams for ANOVA–Tukey results. The results indicate that the proposed DTA balances allocation quality and reliability, allowing the agents to serve targets equally without neglecting certain targets at the expense of the total performance. Evidently, updating the cost incrementally allows agents to update their allocation and choose better routes to finish the task earlier. Understanding the capability also gives priority to the capable agents that complete the task faster.


Dynamic task allocation Heterogeneous multi-agent Ontology Uncertainty theory Robotics 



The authors would like to thank Saudi Aramco for funding the research reported in this paper under the “Saudi Aramco Ibn Khaldun Fellowship for Saudi Women” in partnership with the Center for Clean Water and Clean Energy at MIT. Further thanks are given to Katy G Muhlrad for helping in implementing the ontological part of the proposed method.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Information Technology DepartmentKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Mechanical Engineering DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)CambridgeUSA

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