Coordinated Path Following Control of Fixed-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Hao Chen, Yirui Cong, Xiangke Wang, Xin Xu, Lincheng Shen

In this paper, we investigate the problem of coordinated path following for fixed-wing UAVs with speed constraints in 2D plane. The objective is to steer a fleet of UAVs along the path(s) while achieving the desired sequenced inter-UAV arc distance. In contrast to the previous coordinated path following studies, we are able through our proposed hybrid control law to deal with the forward speed and the angular speed constraints of fixed-wing UAVs. More specifically, the hybrid control law makes all the UAVs work at two different levels: those UAVs whose path following errors are within an invariant set (i.e., the designed coordination set) work at the coordination level; and the other UAVs work at the single-agent level. At the coordination level, we prove that even with speed constraints, the proposed control law can make sure the path following errors reduce to zero, while the desired arc distances converge to the desired value. At the single-agent level, the convergence analysis for the path following error entering the coordination set is provided. We develop a hardware-in-the-loop simulation testbed of the multi-UAV system by using actual autopilots and the X-Plane simulator. The effectiveness of the proposed approach is corroborated with both MATLAB and the testbed.

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