Size Switching in Multi-agent Formation Control
MetadataShow full item record
Formation control among a team of mobile robots is a common problem considered in multi-agent research, yet there are still formation control applications in which no control technique exists. In particular, motion planning of a team of mobile robots in formation poses unique challenges, including avoiding obstacles and maintaining formation throughout the motion trajectory. This research presents a method that requires the robots to maintain formation shape but allows size scaling to accommodate narrow passages or obstacles. In addition, the method only requires sensing of position and speed among agents and does not require interagent communication, an important feature for certain applications. Each robot uses a continuous scaling factor to determine the appropriate distance to neighboring robots. By measuring the relative position and speed of the other robots, each robot can determine the scaling factor used by its neighbors. Using this information, each robot then adjusts its own scaling factor so that the team quickly agrees on one of a discrete number of formation scales. In this way, the formation can shrink when the path is narrow, or expand around obstacles if necessary. The control method is derived analytically and shown to work in simulations.