Cooperative control problems for multiple vehicle systems can be categorized as either formation control problems with applications to mobile robots, unmanned air vehicles, autonomous underwater vehicles, satellites, aircraft, spacecraft, and automated highway systems, or non-formation control problems such as task assignment, cooperative transport, cooperative role assignment, air traffic control, cooperative timing, and cooperative search. The cooperative control of multiple vehicle systems poses significant theoretical and practical challenges. For cooperative control strategies to be successful, numerous issues must be addressed. We consider three important and correlated issues: consensus seeking, formation keeping, and trajectory tracking. For consensus seeking, we investigate algorithms and protocols so that a team of vehicles can reach consensus on the values of the coordination data in the presence of imperfect sensors, communication dropout, sparse communication topologies, and noisy and unreliable communication links. The main contribution of this dissertation in this area is that we show necessary and/or sufficient conditions for consensus seeking with limited, unidirectional, and unreliable information exchange under fixed and switching interaction topologies (through either communication or sensing). For formation keeping, we apply a so-called "virtual structure" approach to spacecraft formation flying and multi-vehicle formation maneuvers. As a result, single vehicle path planning and trajectory generation techniques can be employed for the virtual structure while trajectory tracking strategies can be employed for each vehicle. The main contribution of this dissertation in this area is that we propose a decentralized architecture for multiple spacecraft formation flying in deep space with formation feedback introduced. This architecture ensures the necessary precision in the presence of actuator saturation, internal and external disturbances, and stringent inter-vehicle communication limitations. A constructive approach based on the satisficing control paradigm is also applied to multi-robot coordination in hardware. For trajectory tracking, we investigate nonlinear tracking controllers for fixed wing unmanned air vehicles and nonholonomic mobile robots with velocity and heading rate constraints. The main contribution of this dissertation in this area is that our proposed tracking controllers are shown to be robust to input uncertainties and measurement noise, and are computationally simple and can be implemented with low-cost, low-power microcontrollers. In addition, our approach allows piecewise continuous reference velocity and heading rate and can be extended to derive a variety of other trajectory tracking strategies.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





information consensus, multi-agent systems, cooperative control, switched systems, graph theory, formation keeping, formation flying, multi-agent coordination, unmanned air vehicles, constrained control, trajectory tracking, satisficing control