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Describes how decentralized control theory can be used to analyze the control of multiple cooperative robotic vehicles. Models of cooperation are discussed and related to the input/output reachability, structural observability, and controllability of the entire system. Whereas decentralized control research in the past has concentrated on using decentralized controllers to partition complex physically interconnected systems, this work uses decentralized methods to connect otherwise independent nontouching robotic vehicles so that they behave in a stable, coordinated fashion. A vector Liapunov method is used to prove stability of two examples: the controlled motion of multiple vehicles along a line and the controlled motion of multiple vehicles in formation. Also presented are three applications of this theory: controlling a formation, guarding a perimeter, and surrounding a facility.
Date of Publication: Oct 2002