Time-Varying Formation Control of a Collaborative Multi-Agent System Using Negative-Imaginary Systems Theory

Vu Phi Tran, Matthew Garratt, Ian R. Petersen

The movement of cooperative robots in a densely cluttered environment may not be possible if the formation type is invariant. Hence, we investigate a new method for time-varying formation control for a group of heterogeneous autonomous vehicles, which may include Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). We have extended a Negative-Imaginary (NI) consensus control approach to switch the formation shape of the robots whilst only using the relative distance between agents and between agents and obstacles. All agents can automatically create a new safe formation to overcome obstacles based on a novel geometric method, then restore the prototype formation once the obstacles are cleared. Furthermore, we improve the position consensus at sharp corners by achieving yaw consensus between robots. Simulation and experimental results are then analyzed to validate the feasibility of our proposed approach.

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