cooperative control, consensus, multi-vehicle systems


Much of the research focus in the cooperative control community has been on formation control problems. This focus may be due to the fact that the group control problem can be reduced to well-established single-agent control problems by employing a leader-follower type control strategy. For example, single-agent path planning and trajectory generation techniques can be employed for the leader, and conventional trajectory tracking strategies can be employed for the followers. Indeed, formation control problems are much like linear systems theory: we search where the light is the brightest. It can be argued that formation control problems are the simplest type of coordination problems and that even if they were to be completely solved, the solution would be of limited usefulness since the formation concept is of limited utility. This last comment is supported by the observation that humans cooperate to perform a wide variety of tasks, yet we rarely maintain formation with each other.

Original Publication Citation

Ren, W., Beard, R., and McLain, T. Coordination Variables and Consensus Building in Multiple Vehicle Systems, in Cooperative Control, Springer-Verlag Series: Lecture Notes in Control and Information Sciences (V. Kumar, N.E. Leonard, and A.S. Morse, eds.), vol. 309, 2004.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL






Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor