Formation Flight in Dense Environments

by   Lun Quan, et al.

Formation flight has a vast potential for aerial robot swarms in various applications. However, existing methods lack the capability to achieve fully autonomous large-scale formation flight in dense environments. To bridge the gap, we present a complete formation flight system that effectively integrates real-world constraints into aerial formation navigation. This paper proposes a differentiable graph-based metric to quantify the overall similarity error between formations. This metric is invariant to rotation, translation, and scaling, providing more freedom for formation coordination. We design a distributed trajectory optimization framework that considers formation similarity, obstacle avoidance, and dynamic feasibility. The optimization is decoupled to make large-scale formation flights computationally feasible. To improve the elasticity of formation navigation in highly constrained scenes, we present a swarm reorganization method which adaptively adjusts the formation parameters and task assignments by generating local navigation goals. A novel swarm agreement strategy called global-remap-local-replan and a formation-level path planner is proposed in this work to coordinate the swarm global planning and local trajectory optimizations efficiently. To validate the proposed method, we design comprehensive benchmarks and simulations with other cutting-edge works in terms of adaptability, predictability, elasticity, resilience, and efficiency. Finally, integrated with palm-sized swarm platforms with onboard computers and sensors, the proposed method demonstrates its efficiency and robustness by achieving the largest scale formation flight in dense outdoor environments.


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