Using multi-agent negotiation techniques for the autonomous resolution of air traffic conflicts
Wollkind, Steven Robert
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The National Airspace System in its current incarnation is nearing its maximum capacity. The Free Flight initiative, which would alter the current system by allowing pilots to select more direct routes to their destinations, has been proposed as a solution to this problem. However, allowing pilots to fly anywhere, as opposed to being restricted to planned jetways, greatly complicates the problem of ensuring separation between aircraft. In this thesis I propose using cooperative, multi-agent negotiation techniques in order to efficiently and pseudo-optimally resolve air traffic conflicts. The system makes use of software agents running in each aircraft that negotiate with one another to determine a safe and acceptable solution when a potential air traffic conflict is detected. The agents negotiate using the Monotonic Concession Protocol and communicate using aircraft to aircraft data links, or possibly the ADS-B signal. There are many benefits to using such a system to handle the resolution of air traffic conflicts. Automating CD&R will improve safety by reducing the workloads of air traffic controllers. Additionally, the robustness of the system is improved as the decentralization provided by software agents running in each aircraft reduces the dependence on a single ground based system to coordinate all aircraft movements. The pilots, passengers, and carriers benefit as well due to the increased efficiency of the solutions reached by negotiation.