Design and flight-stability analysis of a closed fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle formation controller

Jialong Zhang, Bing Xiao, Maolong Lyu, Qiang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article addresses a flight-stability problem for the multiple unmanned aerial vehicles cooperative formation flight in the process of the closed and high-speed flight. The main objective is to design a cooperative formation controller with known external factors, and this controller can keep the consensus of attitude and position and reduce the communication delay between any two unmanned aerial vehicles and increase unmanned aerial vehicles formation cruise time under the known external factors. Known external factors are taken into consideration, and longitude maneuvers using nonlinear thrust vectors were employed with unsteady aerodynamic models, according to the attitude and position of unmanned aerial vehicles, which were employed as corresponding input signals for studying the dynamic characteristics of unmanned aerial vehicles formation flight. In addition, the relative distance between any two unmanned aerial vehicles was not allowed to exceed their safe distance so that the controller could perform collision avoidance. An analysis of formation flight distance error shows that it converged to a fixed value that well ensured unmanned aerial vehicles formation flight stability. The experimental results show that the controller can improve the speed of a closed formation effectively and maintain the stability of formation flight, which provides a method for closed formation flight controller design and collision avoidance for any two unmanned aerial vehicles. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of proposed controller is fully proved by semi-physical simulation platform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1054
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Part I: Journal of Systems and Control Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • collision avoidance
  • controller design
  • engineering application
  • flight stability
  • Multiple unmanned aerial vehicles formation

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