Three-dimensional formation flying using bifurcating potential fields

Masayuki Suzuki, Kenji Uchiyama, Derek J. Bennet, Colin R. McInnes

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


This paper describes the design of a three-dimensional formation flying guidance and control algorithm for a swarm of autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), using the new approach of bifurcating artificial potential fields. We consider a decentralized control methodology that can create verifiable swarming patterns, which guarantee obstacle and vehicle collision avoidance. Based on a steering and repulsive potential field the algorithm supports flight that can transition between different formation patterns by way of a simple parameter change. The algorithm is applied to linear longitudinal and lateral models of a UAV. An experimental system to demonstrate formation flying is also developed to verify the validity of the proposed control system.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2009
EventAIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference - Chicago, Illinois
Duration: 10 Aug 200913 Aug 2009


ConferenceAIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference
CityChicago, Illinois


  • formation flying
  • unmanned aerial vehicles
  • bifurcating potential fields
  • swarming patterns


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