Formation control of autonomous ground vehicles

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Dr. Harmati István
Department of Control Engineering and Information Technology

In this paper an intensively investigated and developed branch of mobile robotics is studied called formation control, which is one of the most significant areas of cooperative multi-agent controls. The main goal of formation control is to develop efficient movement controls for autonomous units.

This work is based on two international publications, which solve this problem in different ways.

At first, the thesis gives a brief introduction of formation control problem and some already applied methods that are mentioned in the utilized articles.

After this, the second and third chapter analyzes and interprets the control algorithms of the chosen publications.

The first study shows a distributed control scheme by applying linear algebraic and graph-theory methods. By its control, the robotic system can move on the plane and reach the previously designed formation using only relative sensorial information. The movement of each agent is affected by four controlling components, which are able to guarantee the integrity and safety of the global system and that the system converges to the final position with the desired formation.

The second paper patents a dynamic model-based formation control by using non-linear control theorem. Systems controlled this way are able to adapt the formation and track the desired trajectory. Furthermore, the overall control algorithm is completed with an obstacle-avoidance technique, which is based on fictive forces.

The next chapter details the implemented simulation environment, the models and the virtual reality based visualization. Using the result of the simulation environment, suggestions and corrections of the controlling methods are taken.

The last part of the thesis describes the process of the implementation of the first article's control scheme in a real mobile robotic platform. The applied control-software is designed to the mobile robotics environment of the Department of Control Engineering and Information Technology. This part of the work strongly utilizes the software and hardware components of the former student projects.

Finally, the paper summarizes the achieved results, appraises the solutions, and mentions the further improvement opportunities, while makes an outlook to the role and state of formation control in future's robotics.


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