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This paper addresses the problem of coordinated path tracking for networked nonholonomic mobile vehicles, while building and keeping a desired formation. The control laws proposed are categorized into two envelopes by integrating individual path tracking and global virtual structure approaches. One is steering individual vehicles to track virtual vehicles moving along predefined paths, generated by a formation reference vehicle (FRV) of a time-varying desired virtual structure. The other is ensuring paths to be well tracked in order to build a geometric formation, through the distributed feedback law for path parameters related to the virtual vehicles, such that the physical vehicles are on the desired placements of the formation structure. Within this framework, geometric path tracking is achieved via nonlinear control theory, where an approaching angle is injected as a heading guidance design. The distributed feedback law is analyzed under communication constraints using algebraic graph theory. It is formally shown that the path tracking error of each vehicle is reduced to zero, and vehicles in the networked team globally asymptotically converge to a desired formation with equal path parameters. Simulation results illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed control design.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013