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Finite-Time Fault-Tolerant Formation Control for Distributed Multi-Vehicle Networks With Bearing Measurements

Wu, Kefan; Hu, Junyan; Ding, Zhengtao; Arvin, Farshad


Kefan Wu

Junyan Hu

Zhengtao Ding


This paper addresses a bearing-only formation tracking problem in robotic networks by considering exogenous disturbances and actuator faults. In contrast to traditional position-based coordination strategies, the bearing-only coordinated movements of the unmanned vehicles only rely on the neighboring bearing information. This feature can be utilized to reduce the sensing requirements in the hardware implementation. A gradient-descent protocol is first developed to achieve the desired coordination within a prespecified settling time, where the unknown disturbances are considered in the vehicle dynamics, then the bound of formation tracking error is guaranteed by the Lyapunov approach. In case of damage to the actuators (e.g., motors) in some of the vehicles during the task, fault-tolerant analysis of the proposed controller is provided to ensure the success of the task in extreme environments. Furthermore, the proposed bearing-based method is extended to deal with general linear systems, which can be applied to a wider range of robotic platforms. Finally, numerical simulations and lab-based experiments using unmanned ground vehicles are conducted to validate the effectiveness of the proposed strategy. Note to Practitioners —The aim of this paper is to develop and design a practical bearing-only formation control approach for multi-vehicle systems. Many real-world complex tasks can be solved by multiple unmanned aerial and ground vehicles being connected by a communication network. This paper has proposed a formation tracking scheme for networked multi-vehicle systems that only relies on the relative bearing information of the neighboring vehicles. Closed-loop stability of the scheme and finite-time convergence of the tracking error have been established using the Lyapunov stability approach. The proposed method ensures the robustness and fault-tolerance of the multi-vehicle system against hardware faults or exogenous disturbances. A systematic set of guidelines on how to apply the proposed strategy in practice is also provided for the control practitioners in the form of an algorithm. In order to demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of the proposed coordination scheme, numerical simulations and lab-based hardware experiments were conducted. Potential applications of the proposed scheme include search and rescue, security surveillance and cooperative exploration.


Wu, K., Hu, J., Ding, Z., & Arvin, F. (2023). Finite-Time Fault-Tolerant Formation Control for Distributed Multi-Vehicle Networks With Bearing Measurements. IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 17, 2023
Online Publication Date Jan 30, 2023
Publication Date Jan 30, 2023
Deposit Date Feb 2, 2023
Journal IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
Print ISSN 1545-5955
Electronic ISSN 1558-3783
Publisher Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
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