Research: Networking

Network Connectivity & Decentralized Formation Control


A decentralized control method is developed to enable a group of agents to achieve a desired global configuration while maintaining global network connectivity and avoiding obstacles, using only local feedback and no radio communication between the agents for navigation. To navigate the agents to a desired configuration while avoiding obstacles, the decentralized controller is developed based on the navigation function formalism. By proving that the proposed controller is a qualified navigation function, convergence to the desired formation is guaranteed.

Motivated to steer a group of agents to a desired configuration from any given initially connected graph, A navigation function based decentralized controllers are then developed to maintain the underlying network connected, and guarantee the convergence of the system to the desired configuration, as well as collision avoidance with other agents and moving obstacles. An information flow is proposed to specify the necessary communication among agents. Based on the approach of information flow, each agent is able to choose a short path to reach the desired agent in the information graph by dynamically building new communication links or breaking existing links.


Z. Kan, A. Dani, J. M. Shea, and W. E. Dixon, “Network Connectivity Preserving Formation Stabilization and Obstacle Avoidance via A Decentralized Controller,” IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, Vol 57, No. 7, pp. 1827-1832 (2012).

Z. Kan, A. Dani, J. M. Shea, and W. E. Dixon, “Ensuring Network Connectivity During Formation Control Using A Decentralized Navigation Function,” Military Communications Conference (MILCOM), San Jose, CA, 2010, pp. 954-959.

Z. Kan, A. Dani, J. M. Shea, and W. E. Dixon, “Information Flow Based Connectivity Maintenance of A Multi-agent System During Formation Control,” IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, Orlando, FL, 2011, pp. 2375-2380.