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Volume 19 Issue 04 - Publications Date: 1 April 2000
 
Voting as Validation in Robot Programming
 
S.W. Utete Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PJ, UK, B. Barshan B. and B. Ayrulu Department of Electrical Engineering, Bilkent University, Bilkent 06533, Ankara, Turkey
 
This paper investigates the use of voting as a conflict-resolution technique for data analysis in robot programming. Voting represents an information-abstraction technique. It is argued that in some cases a voting approach is inherent in the nature of the data being analyzed: where multiple, independent sources of information must be reconciled to give a group decision that reflects a single outcome rather than a consensus average. This study considers an example of target classification using sonar sensors. Physical models of reflections from target primitives that are typical of the indoor environment of a mobile robot are used. Dispersed sensors take decisions on target type, which must then be fused to give the single group classification of the presence or absence and type of a target. Dempster-Shafer evidential reasoning is used to assign a level of belief to each sensor decision. The decisions are then fused by two means. Using Dempster's rule of combination, conflicts are resolved through a group measure expressing dissonance in the sensor views. This evidential approach is contrasted with the resolution of sensor conflict through voting. It is demonstrated that abstraction of the level of belief through voting proves useful in resolving the straight-forward conflicts that arise in the classification problem. Conflicts arise where the discriminant data value, an echo amplitude, is most sensitive to noise. Fusion helps to overcome this vulnerability: in Dempster-Shafer reasoning, through the modeling of nonparametric uncertainty and combination of belief values; and in voting, by emphasizing the majority view. The paper gives theoretical and experimental evidence for the use of voting for data abstraction and conflict resolution in areas such as classification, where a strong argument can be made for techniques that emphasize a single out-come rather than an estimated value. Methods for making the vote more strategic are also investigated. The paper addresses the reduction of dimension of sets of decision points or decision makers. Through a consideration of combination order, queuing criteria for more strategic fusion are identified.
 
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