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A. Franchi, C. Masone, V. Grabe, M. Ryll, H. H. Bülthoff, P. Robuffo Giordano. Modeling and Control of UAV Bearing-Formations with Bilateral High-Level Steering. The Int. Journal of Robotics Research, Special Issue on 3D Exploration, Mapping and Surveillance, 31(12):1504-1525, October 2012.

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In this paper we address the problem of controlling the motion of a group of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) bound to keep a formation defined in terms of only relative angles (i.e. a bearing formation). This problem can naturally arise within the context of several multi-robot applications such as, e.g. exploration, coverage, and surveillance. First, we introduce and thoroughly analyze the concept and properties of bearing formations, and provide a class of minimally linear sets of bearings sufficient to uniquely define such formations. We then propose a bearing-only formation controller requiring only bearing measurements, converging almost globally, and maintaining bounded inter-agent distances despite the lack of direct metric information. The controller still leaves the possibility of imposing group motions tangent to the current bearing formation. These can be either autonomously chosen by the robots because of any additional task (e.g. exploration), or exploited by an assisting human co-operator. For this latter ‘human-in-the-loop’ case, we propose a multi-master/multi-slave bilateral shared control system providing the co-operator with some suitable force cues informative of the UAV performance. The proposed theoretical framework is extensively validated by means of simulations and experiments with quadrotor UAVs equipped with onboard cameras. Practical limitations, e.g. limited field-of-view, are also considered

BibTex Reference

   Author = {Franchi, A. and Masone, C. and Grabe, V. and Ryll, M. and H. Bülthoff, H. and Robuffo Giordano, P.},
   Title = {{Modeling and Control of {UAV} Bearing-Formations with Bilateral High-Level Steering}},
   Journal = {The Int. Journal of Robotics Research, Special Issue on 3D Exploration, Mapping and Surveillance},
   Volume = {    31},
   Number = {12},
   Pages = {1504--1525},
   Month = {October},
   Year = {2012}

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