An Algorithm for Autonomous Formation Obstacle Avoidance
Cruz, Yunior Israel
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The level of human interaction with Unmanned Aerial Systems varies greatly from remotely piloted aircraft to fully autonomous systems. In the latter end of the spectrum, the challenge lies in designing effective algorithms to dictate the behavior of the autonomous agents. A swarm of autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles requires collision avoidance and formation flight algorithms to negotiate environmental challenges it may encounter during the execution of its mission, which may include obstacles and chokepoints. In this work, a simple algorithm is developed to allow a formation of autonomous vehicles to perform point to point navigation while avoiding obstacles and navigating through chokepoints. Emphasis is placed on maintaining formation structures. Rather than breaking formation and individually navigating around the obstacle or through the chokepoint, vehicles are required to assemble into appropriately sized/shaped sub-formations, bifurcate around the obstacle or negotiate the chokepoint, and reassemble into the original formation at the far side of the obstruction. The algorithm receives vehicle and environmental properties as inputs and outputs trajectories for each vehicle from start to the desired ending location. Simulation results show that the algorithm safely routes all vehicles past the obstruction while adhering to the aforementioned requirements. The formation adapts and successfully negotiates the obstacles and chokepoints in its path while maintaining proper vehicle separation.