A Fixed-Wing UAV Formation Algorithm Based on Vector Field Guidance

Ximan Wang, Simone Baldi, Xuewei Feng, Changwei Wu, Hongwei Xie, Bart De Schutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


The vector field method was originally proposed to guide a single fixed-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) towards a desired path. In this work, a non-uniform vector field method is proposed that changes in both magnitude and direction, for the purpose of achieving formations of UAVs. As compared to related work in the literature, the proposed formation control law does not need to assume absence of wind. That is, due to the effect of the wind on the UAV, one can handle the UAV air speed being different from its ground speed, and the UAV heading angle being different from its course angle. Stability of the proposed formation method is analyzed via Lyapunov stability theory, and validations are carried out in software-in-the-loop and hardware-in-the-loop comparative experiments. Note to Practitioners - The software-in-the-loop and hardware-in-the-loop experiments, which are done with PX4 autopilot software and hardware, show that the proposed method can be implemented on board of UAVs and integrated with the control architecture of existing autopilot suites. Comparisons with standard formation algorithms show that the proposed method is effective in achieving formation in different path scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-192
JournalIEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Autonomous aerial vehicles
  • Autopilot
  • Computer architecture
  • Formation control
  • hardware-in-the-loop
  • Orbits
  • PX4 autopilot.
  • Standards
  • Task analysis
  • unmanned aerial vehicles
  • vector field
  • Wind speed

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