Hierarchical distributed control for search and tracking by heterogeneous aerial robot networks

  • Elston J
  • Frew E
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Abstract

This paper presents a hierarchical control architecture

that enables cooperative surveillance by a heterogeneous

aerial robot network comprised of mothership unmanned

aircraft and daughtership micro air vehicles. Combining the

endurance, range, and processing capabilities of the motherships

with the stealth, flexibility, and maneuverability of swarms of

daughterships enables robust control of aerial robot networks

conducting collaborative operations. The hierarchical control

structure decomposes the system into components that take

advantage of the abilities of the different types of vehicles.

The motherships act as distributed databases, fusion centers,

negotiation agents, and task supervisors while daughtership

control is achieved using cooperative vector field tracking.

This paper describes the overall arcitecture and then focuses

on the assignment and tracking algorithms used once subteams

of daughtership vehicles have been deployed. A summary

of the communication, command, and control structure of a

heterogeneous unmanned aircraft system is also given in this

paper along with hardware-in-the-loop and software simulation

results verifying several components of the distributed control

architecture.

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