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Three-dimensional formation flying using bifurcating potential fields

Suzuki, Masayuki and Uchiyama, Kenji and Bennet, Derek J. and McInnes, C.R. (2009) Three-dimensional formation flying using bifurcating potential fields. In: AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, 2009-08-10 - 2009-08-13.

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This paper describes the design of a three-dimensional formation flying guidance and control algorithm for a swarm of autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), using the new approach of bifurcating artificial potential fields. We consider a decentralized control methodology that can create verifiable swarming patterns, which guarantee obstacle and vehicle collision avoidance. Based on a steering and repulsive potential field the algorithm supports flight that can transition between different formation patterns by way of a simple parameter change. The algorithm is applied to linear longitudinal and lateral models of a UAV. An experimental system to demonstrate formation flying is also developed to verify the validity of the proposed control system.