| A promising approach to enabling
the rapid deployment and reconfiguration of automated assembly systems is
to make use of cooperating, modular, robust robotic agents. Over the past
5 years, the authors have been constructing just such a system suitable
for assembly of high-precision, high-value products. Within this environment,
each robotic agent executes its own program, coordinating its activity with
that of its peers to produce globally cooperative precision behavior. To
simplify the problems associated with deploying such systems, each agent
adheres to a strict notion of modularity, both physically and computationally.
The intent is to provide an architecture within which it is straightforward
to specify strategies for the robust execution of potentially complex and
fragile cooperative behaviors. The underlying behaviors use a runtime environment
that includes tools to automatically sequence the activities of an agent.
Taken together, these abstractions enable a designer to rapidly and effectively
describe the high-level behavior of a collection of agents while relying
on a set of formally correct control strategies to properly execute and
sequence the necessary continuous behaviors.