Naomi Ehrich Leonard
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Schooling Autonomous Vehicles with Artificial Potentials
We describe distributed control laws that are designed to allow a group of autonomous vehicles to perform maneuvers that resemble schooling or flocking. Natural schools and flocks are notable for their remarkable capacity to display highly organized group-level behaviors; the group exhibits an "emergent intelligence" that arises from individual-level behaviors. For our group of vehicles, we govern individual-level behavior with control laws that derive from artificial potentials. Artificial potentials are defined to model the desired local interaction between neighboring vehicles and the interaction between each vehicle and a fictitious mission leader. The corresponding interaction forces maintain inter-vehicle spacing and enforce inter-vehicle orientation alignment so that schooling behavior can emerge. A Lyapunov function is constructed from the artificial potentials for analysis of the closed-loop, multiple-vehicle system dynamics. We apply these ideas to the case of autonomous underwater vehicle schooling, and describe the multiple underwater vehicle experimental test-bed that we are developing at Princeton.