Coordination of Marine Robots Under Tracking Errors and Communication Constraints

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Bruno Miguel Ferreira
Aníbal Matos
Nuno Cruz
António Paulo Moreira
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This paper presents the development and the experimental validation of a centralized coordination control scheme that is robust to communication constraints and individual tracking errors for a team of possibly heterogeneous marine vehicles. By assuming the existence of a lower level target tracking control layer, a centralized potential-field-based coordination scheme is proposed to drive a team of robots along a path that does not necessarily need to be defined a priori. Furthermore, the formation is allowed to hold its position (the vehicles hold their positions with regard to a static virtual leader), which is particularly appreciated in several marine applications. As it is important to guarantee stability and mission completion in adverse environments with limited communications, the centralized control scheme for coordination is constructed in a way that makes it robust to tracking errors and intermittent communication links. The study and developments presented in this paper are complemented with field experiments in which vehicles have coordinated their operation to keep in formation over a dynamic path and static points. This work considers two types of communication technologies. Firstly, standard high rate radio communications are used to drive the formation and, secondly, acoustic communications are employed to assess the performance and the robustness of the proposed approach to degraded and highly variable conditions. Index Terms-Communication