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Autonomous three-dimensional formation flight for a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles

Bennet, Derek James and McInnes, Colin and Suzuki, Masayuki and Uchiyama, Kenji (2011) Autonomous three-dimensional formation flight for a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles. Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, 34 (6). pp. 1899-1908. ISSN 1533-3884

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Abstract

This paper investigates the development of a new guidance algorithm for a formation of unmanned aerial vehicles. Using the new approach of bifurcating potential fields, it is shown that a formation of unmanned aerial vehicles can be successfully controlled such that verifiable autonomous patterns are achieved, with a simple parameter switch allowing for transitions between patterns. The key contribution that this paper presents is in the development of a new bounded bifurcating potential field that avoids saturating the vehicle actuators, which is essential for real or safety-critical applications. To demonstrate this, a guidance and control method is developed, based on a six-degreeof-freedom linearized aircraft model, showing that, in simulation, three-dimensional formation flight for a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles can be achieved.