Indexed on: 21 Jul '15Published on: 21 Jul '15Published in: Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)
To monitor large areas or simultaneously measure multiple points, multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) must be flown in formation. To perform such flights, sensor information generated by each UAV should be shared via communications. Although a variety of studies have focused on the algorithms for formation flight, these studies have mainly demonstrated the performance of formation flight using numerical simulations or ground robots, which do not reflect the dynamic characteristics of UAVs. In this study, an onboard sensor information sharing system and formation flight algorithms for multiple UAVs are proposed. The communication delays of radiofrequency (RF) telemetry are analyzed to enable the implementation of the onboard sensor information sharing system. Using the sensor information sharing, the formation guidance law for multiple UAVs, which includes both a circular and close formation, is designed. The hardware system, which includes avionics and an airframe, is constructed for the proposed multi-UAV platform. A numerical simulation is performed to demonstrate the performance of the formation flight guidance and control system for multiple UAVs. Finally, a flight test is conducted to verify the proposed algorithm for the multi-UAV system.