On-orbit assembly using superquadric potential fields

Ahmed Badawy, Colin McInnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)
84 Downloads (Pure)


The autonomous on-orbit assembly of a large space structure is presented using a method based on superquadric artificial potential fields. The final configuration of the elements which form the structure is represented as the minimum of some attractive potential field. Each element of the structure is then considered as presenting an obstacle to the others using a superquadric potential field attached to the body axes of the element. A controller is developed which ensures that the global potential field decreases monotonically during the assembly process. An error quaternion representation is used to define both the attractive and superquadric obstacle potentials allowing the final configuration of the elements to be defined through both relative position and orientation. Through the use of superquadric potentials, a wide range of geometric objects can be represented using a common formalism, while collision avoidance can make use of both translational and rotation maneuvers to reduce total maneuver cost for the assembly process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-43
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • on-orbit assembly
  • space
  • superquadratic fields
  • control systems
  • mechanical engineering


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