Cooperative Control and Optimization

Volume 66 of the series Applied Optimization pp 73-93

Cooperative Control of Robot Formations

  • Rafael FierroAffiliated withGRASP Lab., University of Pennsylvania
  • , Peng SongAffiliated withGRASP Lab., University of Pennsylvania
  • , Aveek DasAffiliated withGRASP Lab., University of Pennsylvania
  • , Vijay KumarAffiliated withGRASP Lab., University of Pennsylvania

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We describe a framework for controlling and coordinating a group of nonholonomic mobile robots equipped with range sensors, with applications ranging from scouting and reconnaissance, to search and rescue and manipulation tasks. We derive control algorithms that allow the robots to control their position and orientation with respect to neighboring robots or obstacles in the environment. We then outline a coordination protocol that automatically switches between the control laws to maintain a specified formation. Two simple trajectory generators are derived from potential field theory. The first allows each robot to plan its reference trajectory based on the information available to it. The second scheme requires sharing of information and enables a rigid group formation. Numerical simulations illustrate the application of these ideas and demonstrate the scalability of the proposed framework for a large group of robots.


formation control potential functions nonholonomic mobile robots switching control