Design and testing of an autonomous multi-agent based spacecraft controller

S. Grey, G. Radice

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

1 Citation (Scopus)


In this paper a testing suite for the multi-agent component of a spacecraft control system is presented. The test suite is designed to test the spacecraft behaviour given a set of control laws and a decision making architecture. The approach couples multiple models to the multi agent system (MAS). One set of models act as each agent's intelligent behaviour, for instance allowing the agents to predict and reason about future events and to detect if an error has occurred by subsequently checking its prediction or if the predicted parameter is outside of a certain range. The second model which is common to all the agents in the MAS is a simulation model which supplies sensor readings to the agent and models the physical environment of the agent. The testing suite includes a number of intermediary functions between the models and the MAS to allow for different scenarios to be simulated without changing the simulation model. The models are run separately from the MAS itself, this approach allows new simulation models to be quickly and easily integrated into the testing suite. We demonstrate this approach using an example of a MAS controlled spacecraft formation carrying out formation keeping and orbital control duties. We focus on the agents charged with generating manoeuvres for the spacecraft and executing these manoeuvres. The formation control is achieved by the agents on each spacecraft reasoning about their location in the formation and acquiring their desired position using a distributed potential field control law, a number of different potential field functions are tested.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication61st International Astronautical Congress 2010 - Proceedings
Place of PublicationParis
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2010
Event61st International Astronautical Congress 2010, IAC 2010 - Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 27 Sept 20101 Oct 2010


Conference61st International Astronautical Congress 2010, IAC 2010
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic


  • multi-agent based spacecraft control
  • multi-agent system
  • simulation model


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