Authors - A. Benini, A. Mancini, E. Frontoni, P. Zingaretti, S. Longhi.

Abstract - Today Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and in particular quad-rotors represent novel platforms to accomplish a wide set of missions as surveillance, Search & Rescue, inspection, photogrammetry. The main limitation of these vehicles is represented by the restricted operating area. The area is mainly limited by power supplies (batteries or fuel). A strategy to overcame this limitation is to increase the number of vehicles forming a coalition. The main benefit of coalition formation are the extended mission range and the capability to increase the sensorial set.

Each vehicles is a part of a dynamic network that must be properly coordinated in order to optimize all the available resources. In this paper a new framework for simulation of unmanned vehicles in cooperative scenarios is first presented. The framework is based on the interaction of a physics-engine, which simulates the dynamics of vehicles and their interaction with world increasing the realism of simulation, and a simulation environment where the high-level strategy is designed/developed. A Model Predictive Control (MPC) is then introduced to solve the problem of leader-follower applied to quad-rotors. Using the developed framework and the MPC technique is possible to easily instantiate the coalition minimizing also a cost function. The obtained results from the control strategy point of view show that positioning error at steady state is equal to zero. The MPC allows also the modelling of different conflicting constraints as the control actions, positioning error, and fuel/energy consumption.

This paper is available on ASME Digital Collection.