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Leader-following flocking for unmanned aerial vehicle swarm with distributed topology control


To address the flocking issues of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) swarm operating at a leader-follower mode, distributed control protocols comprising both kinetic controller and topology control algorithm must be implemented. For flocking the UAV swarm, a distributed control-input method is required for both maintaining a relatively steady state between neighboring vehicles (including velocity matching and distance maintenance) and avoiding vehicle-to-vehicle collision. Furthermore, the stability of control protocols should be analyzed using the potential energy function. In particular, a distributed β-angle test (BAT) rule in the proposed topology-control issue may allow each UAV to determine its neighboring set by exploiting the locally sensed information, thereby significantly reducing the communication overhead of the entire swarm. In addition, node-degree bound is derived to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed algorithm, in which the optimal value in terms of convergence is analyzed. The flocking of the flying ad-hoc network (FANET) can be achieved in a self-organizing way without the use of an external control center via the distributed control protocols. Ultimately, the proposed analysis is verified by numerical results.

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This work was supported in part by Foundation of Beijing Engineering and Technology Center for Convergence Networks and Ubiquitous Services, Joint Foundation of the Ministry of Education (MoE) and China Mobile Group (Grant No. MCM20160103), and Beijing Institute of Technology Research Fund Program for Young Scholars.

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Correspondence to Wei Huangfu.

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Liu, C., Wang, M., Zeng, Q. et al. Leader-following flocking for unmanned aerial vehicle swarm with distributed topology control. Sci. China Inf. Sci. 63, 140312 (2020).

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  • flying ad hoc networks
  • flocking
  • leader-follower
  • topology control
  • neighbor selection