Distributed Leader-Follower Flight Control for Large-Scale Clusters of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Cluster of small unmanned aerial vehicles (SUAVs) has become a subject of significant interest as a hopefully low-cost solution for the high-threat environment during modern warfare. Therein, the most fundamental issue is the cooperation control problem of these SUAVs. Moreover, it is still an open problem that how to control such a complex system flying as a flock while following an expected trajectory. In addition, how to organize the individuals belonging to one system is really a great challenge for large-scale systems. Since leader–follower structures widely exist in nature among the social animals, one leader–follower structure is introduced for effective organization of the large-scale cluster. A distributed and simplified flocking algorithm is proposed to enable the followers to fly in a cohesive configuration under the guidance of the leader and avoid collision with each other. The distributed protocol of the follower is proposed by just relying on the position-related measurement and the attitude-angle measurement in favor of the convenient engineering application. Numerical simulations are provided to illustrate the effectiveness of the cooperation approach for large-scale clusters of the SUAVs.


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