Certain tasks require multiple robots to cooperate in order to solve them. The main problem with multi-robot systems is that they are inherently complex and usually situated in a dynamic environment. Now, biological immune systems possess a natural distributed control and exhibit real-time adaptivity, properties that are required to solve problems in multi-robot systems. In this thesis, biological immune systems and their response to external elements to maintain an organism's health state are researched. The objective of this research is to propose immune-inspired approaches to cooperation, to establish an adaptive cooperation algorithm, and to determine the refinements that can be applied in relation to cooperation. Two immune-inspired models that are based on the immune network theory are proposed, namely the Immune Network T-cell-regulated---with Memory (INT-M) and the Immune Network T-cell-regulated---Cross-Reactive (INT-X) models. The INT-M model is further studied where the results have suggested that the model is feasible and suitable to be used, especially in the multi-robot cooperative shepherding domain. The Collecting task in the RoboShepherd scenario and the application of the INT-M algorithm for multi-robot cooperation are discussed. This scenario provides a highly dynamic and complex situation that has wide applicability in real-world problems. The underlying 'mechanism of cooperation' in the immune inspired model (INT-M) is verified to be adaptive in this chosen scenario. Several multi-robot cooperative shepherding factors are studied and refinements proposed, notably methods used for Shepherds' Approach, Shepherds' Formation and Steering Points' Distance. This study also recognises the importance of flock identification in relation to cooperative shepherding, and the Connected Components Labelling method to overcome the related problem is presented. Further work is suggested on the proposed INT-X model that was not implemented in this study, since it builds on top of the INT-M algorithm and its refinements. This study can also be extended to include other shepherding behaviours, further investigation of other useful features of biological immune systems, and the application of the proposed models to other cooperative tasks.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
Malaysian Ministry of Education & Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM)