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In this technical note, we address the combined problem of motion and network topology control in a group of mobile agents with common objective the flocking behavior of the group. Instead of assuming network connectivity, we enforce it by means of distributed topology control that decides on both deletion and creation of communication links between agents, adapting the network to the group's spatial distribution. With this protocol ensuring network connectivity, a decentralized motion controller aligns agent velocity vectors and regulates inter-agent distances to maintain existing network links. The stability of the flocking controller is established in continuous time by means of an observability argument on a quadratic form of the graph Laplacian that exploits the time delay between link deletion and creation caused by the topology control protocol, which induces a dwell time between network switches.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2009