Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Fault-tolerant cooperative control for multiple UAVs based on sliding mode techniques

  • 201 Accesses

  • 19 Citations


This paper proposes a fault-tolerant cooperative control (FTCC) design approach for multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), where the outer-loop control and the inner-loop fault accommodation are explicitly considered. The reference signals for the inner-loop of the follower UAV can be directly produced by resorting to a proportional control. In the presence of actuator faults, the estimation of the fault information can be completed within finite time. Moreover, the control of the inner-loop is reconfigured based on the fault information adaptation and sliding mode techniques, such that the deleterious effects due to failed actuators can be compensated within finite time. Simulations of UAV cooperative flight are conducted to illustrate the effectiveness of this FTCC scheme.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1

    Duan H B, Li H, Luo Q N, et al. A binocular vision-based UAVs autonomous aerial refueling platform. Sci China Inf Sci, 2016, 59: 053201

  2. 2

    Giulietti F, Innocenti M, Napolitano M, et al. Dynamic and control issues of formation flight. Aerosp Sci Tech, 2005, 9: 65–71

  3. 3

    Valavanis K, Vachtsevanos G. Handbook of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Berlin: Springer, 2015. 221–234

  4. 4

    Yuan C, Zhang Y M, Liu Z X. A survey on technologies for automatic forest fire monitoring, detection, and fighting using unmanned aerial vehicles. Can J Forest Res, 2015, 45: 783–792

  5. 5

    Casbeer D W, Beard R W, McLain T W, et al. Forest fire monitong with multiple small UAVs. In: Proceedings of American Control Conference, Portland, 2005. 3530–3535

  6. 6

    Rango A, Laliberte A, Herrick J E, et al. Unmanned aerial vehicle-based remote sensing for rangeland assessment, monitoring, and management. J Appl Remote Sens, 2009, 3: 033542

  7. 7

    Kingston D, Beard R W, Holt R S. Decentralized perimeter surveillance using a team of UAVs. IEEE Trans Robot, 2008, 24: 1394–1404

  8. 8

    Goodrich M A, Morse B S, Gerhardt D, et al. Supporting widerness search and rescue using a camera-equipped mini UAV. J Field Robot, 2008, 25: 89–110

  9. 9

    Larrauri J I, Sorrosal G, Gonzalez M. Automatic system for overhead power line inspection using an unmanned aerial vehicle — RELIFO project. In: Proceedings of International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Atlanta, 2013. 244–252

  10. 10

    Pachter M, D’Azzo J J, Proud A W. Tight formation flight control. J Guid Control Dynam, 2001, 24: 246–254

  11. 11

    Gu Y, Seanor B, Campa G, et al. Design and flight testing evaluation of formation control laws. IEEE Trans Contr Syst Tech, 2006, 14: 1105–1112

  12. 12

    Marshall J A, Tsai D. Periodic formations of multivehicle systems. IET Control Theory A, 2011, 5: 389–396

  13. 13

    Zhang X Y, Duan H B. Altitude consensus based 3D flocking control for fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle swarm trajectory tracking. J Aerosp Eng, 2016, 230: 2628–2638

  14. 14

    Lin W. Distributed UAV formation control using differential game approach. Aerosp Sci Tech, 2014, 35: 54–62

  15. 15

    Zhang Y M, Jiang J. Bibliographical review on reconfigurable fault-tolerant control systems. Ann Rev Contr, 2008, 32: 229–252

  16. 16

    Yu X, Jiang J. A survey of fault-tolerant controllers based on safety-related issues. Ann Rev Contr, 2015, 39: 46–57

  17. 17

    Yu X, Jiang J. Hybrid fault-tolerant flight control system design against partial actuator failures. IEEE Trans Contr Syst Tech, 2012, 20: 871–886

  18. 18

    Yu X, Liu Z X, Zhang Y M. Fault-tolerant flight control with finite-time adaptation under actuator stuck failures. IEEE Trans Contr Syst Tech, doi: 10.1109/TCST.2016.2603072

  19. 19

    Xiao B, Yin S. Velocity-free fault and uncertainty attenuation control for a class of nonlinear systems. IEEE Trans Ind Electron, 2016, 63: 4400–4411

  20. 20

    Xiao B, Yin S, Wu L G. A structure simple controller for satellite attitude tracking maneuver. IEEE Trans Ind Electron, 2017, 64: 1436–1446

  21. 21

    Yu X, Zhang Y M, Liu Z X. Fault-tolerant flight control design with explicit consideration of reconfiguration transients. J Guid Contr Dynam, 2016, 39: 556–563

  22. 22

    Beard R W, McLain T W, Nelson D B, et al. Decentralized cooperative aerial surveillance using fixed-wing miniature. Proc IEEE, 2006, 94: 1306–1324

  23. 23

    Franco E, Parisini T, Polycarpou M M. Design and stability analysis of cooperative receding-horizon control of linear discrete-time agents. Int J Robust Nonlin, 2007, 17: 982–1001

  24. 24

    Izadi H A, Gordon B W, Zhang Y M. Decentralized receding horizon control for cooperative multiple vehicles subject to communication delay. J Guid Contr Dynam, 2009, 32: 1959–1965

  25. 25

    Abdessameud A, Tayebi A. Formation control of VTOL unmanned aerial vehicles with communication delays. Automatica, 2011, 47: 2383–2394

  26. 26

    Yang H, Staroswiecki M, Jiang B, et al. Fault tolerant cooperative control for a class of nonlinear multi-agent systems. Syst Contr Lett, 2011, 60: 271–277

  27. 27

    Izadi H A, Gordon B W, Zhang Y M. Hierarchical decentralized receding horizon control of multiple vehicles with communication failures. IEEE Trans Aero Electron Syst, 2013, 49: 744–759

  28. 28

    Innocenti M, Pollini L, Giulietti F. Management of communication failures in formation flight. J Aerosp Comput Inf Commun, 2004, 1: 19–35

  29. 29

    Alwi H, Edwards C. Fault detection and fault-tolerant control of a civil aircraft using a sliding-mode-based scheme. IEEE Trans Contr Syst Tech, 2008, 16: 499–510

  30. 30

    Xiao B, Hu Q, Zhang Y M. Adaptive sliding mode fault tolerant attitude tracking control for flexible spacecraft under actuator saturation. IEEE Trans Contr Syst Tech, 2012, 20: 1605–1612

  31. 31

    Li P, Ma J J, Zheng Z Q. Robust adaptive multivariable higher-order sliding mode flight control for air-breathing hypersonic vehicle with actuator failures. Int J Adv Robot Syst, 2016, 13: 1–12

  32. 32

    Li P, Ma J J, Zheng Z Q. Disturbance-observer-based fixed-time second-order sliding mode control of an air-breathing hypersonic vehicle with actuator faults. J Aerosp Eng, doi: 10.1177/0954410016683732

  33. 33

    Qian M S, Jiang B, Xu D Z. Fault tolerant control scheme design for the formation control system of unmanned aerial vehicles. J Syst Contr Eng, 2013, 227: 626–634

  34. 34

    Xu Q, Yang H, Jiang B, et al. Fault tolerant formation control of UAVs subject to permanent and intermittent faults. J Intell Robot Syst, 2014, 73: 589–602

  35. 35

    Liu Z X, Yuan C, Yu X, et al. Leader-follower formation control of unmanned aerial vehicles in the presence of obstacles and actuator faults. Unmanned Syst, 2016, 4: 197–211

  36. 36

    Yu X, Liu Z X, Zhang Y M. Fault-tolerant formation control of multiple UAVs in the presence of actuator faults. Int J Robust Nonlin, 2016, 26: 2668–2685

  37. 37

    Cheng C C, Chien S H. Adaptive sliding mode controller design based on T-S fuzzy system models. Automatica, 2006, 42: 1005–1010

  38. 38

    Utkin V I. Sliding Modes in Control and Optimization. Berlin: Springer, 1992. 108–112

Download references


This work was supported in part by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51575167, 61403407, 61573282, 61603130), Shaanxi Province Natural Science Foundation (Grant No. 2015JZ020), Hunan Province Natural Science Foundation (Grant No. 2017JJ3041), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. 531107040965). The authors would like to thank the support from the Collaborative Innovation Center of Intelligent New Energy Vehicle and the Hunan Collaborative Innovation Center for Green Car. Thanks also to the associate editor and anonymous reviewers for the constructive comments.

Author information

Correspondence to Youmin Zhang.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Li, P., Yu, X., Peng, X. et al. Fault-tolerant cooperative control for multiple UAVs based on sliding mode techniques. Sci. China Inf. Sci. 60, 070204 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11432-016-9074-8

Download citation


  • fault-tolerant cooperative control
  • unmanned aerial vehicle
  • actuator faults
  • finite-time fault accommodation