Collaborative Target-Tracking Control Using Multiple Fixed-Wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles with Constant Speeds

Zhiyong Sun, Héctor Garcia de Marina, Brian D.O. Anderson, Changbin Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper considers a collaborative tracking control problem using a group of fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with constant and nonidentical speeds. The dynamics of fixed-wing UAVs are modeled by unicycletype equations with nonholonomic constraints, assuming that UAVs fly at constant altitudes in the nominal operation mode. The controller is designed such that all fixed-wing UAVs as a group can collaboratively track a desired target’s position and velocity. This paper first presents conditions on the relative speeds of tracking UAVs and the target to ensure that the tracking objective can be achieved when UAVs are subject to constant-speed constraints. A reference velocity is constructed that includes both the target’s velocity and position as feedback, which is to be tracked by the group centroid. In this way, all vehicles’ headings are controlled such that the group centroid follows a reference trajectory that successfully tracks the target’s trajectory. A spacing controller is further devised to ensure that all vehicles stay close to the group centroid trajectory. Tradeoffs in the controller design and performance limitations of the target tracking control due to the constant-speed constraint are also discussed in detail. Experimental results with three fixed-wing UAVs tracking a target rotorcraft are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-250
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number2
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


This work was supported by the Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP-160104500 and DP-190100887, Data61-CSIRO, National Science Foundation of China (NSFC)-DFG project 61761136005, the EU H2020 Mistrale project under grant agreement no. 641606, and partially supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation under research grant RTI2018-098962-BC21. The work of Zhiyong Sun is supported by a starting grant from Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute (EAISI). The work of Hector Garcia de Marina is supported by the grant Atraccion de Talento with reference number 2019-T2/TIC-13503 from the Government of the Autonomous Community of Madrid. The authors would like to thank Georg S. Seyboth for his contribution in the early stage ideas of this paper. The experimental work was supported by the Paparazzi team in the drone lab at the Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC) in Toulouse, France. In particular, we thank Xavier Paris, Murat Bronz, and Gautier Hattenberger. The authors would like to thank the reviewers and the associate editor Derek A. Paley for their constructive critics.

FundersFunder number
Atraccion de Talento2019-T2/TIC-13503
EU H2020 Mistrale641606
Eindhoven University of Technology
Comunidad de Madrid
Australian Research CouncilData61-CSIRO, DP-160104500, DP-190100887
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft61761136005
National Natural Science Foundation of China
Ministerio de Ciencia e InnovaciónRTI2018-098962-BC21
Ecole Nationale de l'Aviation Civile


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