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Proceedings Paper

Adaptable formations utilizing heterogeneous unmanned systems
Author(s): Laura E. Barnes; Richard Garcia; MaryAnne Fields; Kimon Valavanis
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Paper Abstract

This paper addresses the problem of controlling and coordinating heterogeneous unmanned systems required to move as a group while maintaining formation. We propose a strategy to coordinate groups of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) with one or more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). UAVs can be utilized in one of two ways: (1) as alpha robots to guide the UGVs; and (2) as beta robots to surround the UGVs and adapt accordingly. In the first approach, the UAV guides a swarm of UGVs controlling their overall formation. In the second approach, the UGVs guide the UAVs controlling their formation. The unmanned systems are brought into a formation utilizing artificial potential fields generated from normal and sigmoid functions. These functions control the overall swarm geometry. Nonlinear limiting functions are defined to provide tighter swarm control by modifying and adjusting a set of control variables forcing the swarm to behave according to set constraints. Formations derived are subsets of elliptical curves but can be generalized to any curvilinear shape. Both approaches are demonstrated in simulation and experimentally. To demonstrate the second approach in simulation, a swarm of forty UAVs is utilized in a convoy protection mission. As a convoy of UGVs travels, UAVs dynamically and intelligently adapt their formation in order to protect the convoy of vehicles as it moves. Experimental results are presented to demonstrate the approach using a fully autonomous group of three UGVs and a single UAV helicopter for coordination.

Paper Details

Date Published: 30 April 2009
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 7332, Unmanned Systems Technology XI, 73320S (30 April 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.817361
Show Author Affiliations
Laura E. Barnes, The Univ. of Texas at Arlington (United States)
Richard Garcia, Army Research Lab. (United States)
MaryAnne Fields, Army Research Lab. (United States)
Kimon Valavanis, Univ. of Denver (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7332:
Unmanned Systems Technology XI
Grant R. Gerhart; Douglas W. Gage; Charles M. Shoemaker, Editor(s)

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