Autonomous satellite constellation for enhanced Earth coverage using coupled selection equations

Mushet, Garrie and Mingotti, Giorgio and Colombo, Camilla and McInnes, Colin (2013) Autonomous satellite constellation for enhanced Earth coverage using coupled selection equations. In: 7th International Workshop on Satellite Constellation and Formation Flying, 2013-03-13 - 2013-03-15.

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This paper presents a novel solution to the problem of autonomous task allocation for a self-organising constellation of small satellites in Earth orbit. The method allows the constellation members to plan manoeuvres to cluster themselves above particular target longitudes on the Earth’s surface. This is enabled through the use of Coupled Selection Equations, which represent a dynamical systems approach to combinatorial optimisation problems, and whose solution tends towards a Boolean matrix which describes pairings of the satellites and targets which solves the relevant assignment problems. Satellite manoeuvres are actuated using a simple control law which incorporates the results of the Coupled Selection Equations. Three demonstrations of the efficacy of the method are given in order of increasing complexity - first with an equal number of satellites and targets, then with a surplus of satellites, including agent failure events, and finally with a constellation of two different satellite types. The method is shown to provide efficient solutions, whilst being computationally non-intensive, quick to converge and robust to satellite failures. Proposals to extend the method for on-board processing on a distributed architecture are discussed.