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2, MARCH 2010


Decentralized Spacing Control of a String of Multiple Vehicles Over Lossy Datalinks
´ , Member, IEEE, and Claire J. Tomlin, Senior Member, IEEE Rodney Teo, Member, IEEE, Duˇ san M. Stipanovic
less datalinks. Wireless datalinks are however not perfect and suffer from delays and dropouts. Sheikholeslam and Desoer [16] studied the performance of the platoon when there is continually no communication of lead vehicle information. It was shown that string stability is lost without information of the lead vehicle. Hedrick et al. [17] studied the effects of communication delays from the lead vehicle on string stability. They concluded that any delay in the communicated information using the existing control algorithms [18] will not be string stable over all conditions, and thus proposed the development of control algorithms that are robust to communication delays and to random dropouts. In [19], the effect of random momentary dropouts was also studied but it was for a fully redundant information structure in which all vehicles communicate their state information to each other. Similarly, in [3], measurement losses among satellites due to the shadowing effect was addressed. Full redundancy in the measurements of relative spacing was also assumed. In [20], localized estimators were proposed to reduce communication requirements. Robust stability issues were addressed whereas peak value analysis of spacing error was beyond the scope of the paper. In this paper, no redundancy is assumed. Each vehicle has only the measurements of the lead and preceding vehicles’ states as in [21]. The effect of random momentary lead vehicle state dropouts on leader-to-formation stability, as defined in [22], is studied. During dropouts, the vehicles would apply the dead reckoning process to estimate the lead vehicle’s state. The resulting closed loop system is analyzed mathematically and it is determined that, for bursty links, leader-to-formation stability can be retained if the lead vehicle indeed maintains its speed and if not, the spacing error will not exceed some bound which is some finite factor of the peak value of the lead vehicle’s acceleration. II. NOTATION The notations used are as follows: refers to the -norm of the signal to the 1-norm of the im, and to the inverse transform. For pulse response a string of vehicles, we define , and as, respectively, the and distance traveled, speed and acceleration of vehicle . are, respectively, the spacing error and the desired spacing and . The symbols above a variable as between vehicles in refers to an estimate of to a propagation, to the error in the estimate and to a measurement of . III. DESIGN GOALS AND SPACING ERROR TRANSFER FUNCTION The controller design objectives are to achieve the following: • leader-to-formation stability (as in [22]) which requires spacing error to be bounded for: 1) any initial formation spacing error and; 2) any bounded input of the leader (Note

Abstract—In spacing control of multiple vehicles as in aircraft, spacecraft formation flying and highway vehicle platooning, previous research has shown that the lead vehicle state is required by all following vehicles in order to achieve leader-to-formation stability. Following vehicles can estimate the lead vehicle’s state during losses by assuming that the lead vehicle maintains its speed. In this paper, it is determined that, for bursty links, leader-to-formation stability can be retained if the lead vehicle indeed maintains its speed and if not, the spacing error will not exceed some bound which is some finite factor of the peak value of the lead vehicle’s acceleration. Index Terms—Communication loss, decentralized control, leader-to-formation stability, multiple vehicles, spacing control, string stability, wireless datalink.

I. INTRODUCTION PACING control of multiple vehicles has applications in areas such as automated highway systems (AHS), aircraft [1], [2] and spacecraft [3] formation flight, closely spaced parallel approaches [4], and separation control of arrival stream aircraft [5]. Spacing control research for AHS is the most extensive. There is also other related research that involves the use of the overlapping technique yielding controllers with good performance [6], and a theory and control techniques for formation maneuvering [7]–[10]. AHS research began in the 1960’s [11] and Shladover [12] has given a very extensive review of the AHS research done. Shladover [13] pointed out the need for lead vehicle information to obtain string stability with a linear static controller for spacing control. Headway control however does not require lead vehicle information [14]. Swaroop et al. [15] compared spacing and headway control laws and found that the latter required control torques inversely proportional to the headway. This could lead to input saturation for small headways. It was concluded that for high capacity, small vehicle to vehicle spacing, the constant spacing law is necessary at the price of inter-vehicle communication. The most practical means for this is through wire-


Manuscript received November 06, 2007; revised December 14, 2008. Manuscript received in final form February 17, 2009. First published October 30, 2009; current version published February 24, 2010. Recommended by Associate Editor C. A. Rabbath. This work was supported in part by DSTA, Singapore, the DARPA Software Enabled Control (SEC) program administered by AFRL under Contract F33615-99-C-3014, by a DoD Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program administered by ONR under Grant N00014-02-1-0720; and by the DARPA MICA program administered by SPAWAR under Contract N66001-01-C-8080. R. Teo is with the DSO National Laboratories, Singapore (e-mail: rodney_teo@dso.org.sg). ´ is with the IESE Department and CSL, University of Illinois D. M. Stipanovic at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 USA (e-mail: dusan@uiuc.edu). C. J. Tomlin is with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1770 USA, and also with the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, Stanford CA 94305 USA (e-mail: tomlin@eecs.berkeley.edu). Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TCST.2009.2016109

1063-6536/$26.00 © 2009 IEEE

we require the transfer to . constant) over the sample period . where implies a lost link between the lead implies a good link. . Let the relative states be and . the control input . . NO. The discrete-time dynamics of ve. 18. . state information of the lead vehicle is required. the control input is the same except that . We denote in (5) as the two components of . Substituting the equation for the input. and overshoot performance specifications. (i. Mathematically. To study the effect of communication dropouts on spacing error while meeting the above goals. . i. will be zero order held of vehicle at the th time interval.e. . .1 s. . VOL. . and hicle is . The system dynamics then become a discrete-time switched linear system (3) where the state and control inputs are . V. in the tually relative states dynamics and working in the -domain. For a wireless network with broadcasts at intervals of time.e. For the first vehicle behind the is aclead vehicle. Hence would typically be in the order of 0. . (5) (2) which implies that each vehicle assumes that the lead vehicle travels at constant speed during losses.. dynamics As mentioned earlier in [13]. and Also. where if the platoon travels mostly at constant speed. and propagation is given by . where is vehicle ’s vehicle as . refers to the lead vehicle. and where (4) and . this can be written as: . . 2. . a propagation of the state is computed and used in the control law. the contribution from each input can be considered separately as if they are independent of each other. The bandwidth of the vehicle system may be in the order of 1 Hz.470 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY. and [18]. . . Because . this is a good choice where are the system matrices in (3). • rise time. relative speeds and positions of the lead and preceding vehicles. When the lead vehicle state is not available. IV. settling time. • satisfactorily small effect from communication dropouts on spacing error. . Thus. . ANALYSIS This section derives the maximum absolute value of which can be written as . to achieve string stability. Substituting the states with the relative states in the discrete-time dynamics gives the relative states . HANDLING COMMUNICATION DROP-OUTS The method studied here to handle communication dropouts is to control with a propagation of the lead vehicle state. [15]. The and th vehicle at time .. Further. let the control input be a linear combination of the accelerations. . the resulting transfer function between and is (1) where . . We start by writing the model of function from and . control input and 1 to the first vehicle behind the lead and so on. MARCH 2010 that Condition 1) is also known as string stability as in [13]).

. and . will be attenuated over time. First.: DECENTRALIZED SPACING CONTROL OF A STRING OF MULTIPLE VEHICLES OVER LOSSY DATALINKS 471 Consider first the contribution from . we can consider the effects of (8) with and . and hence as well. The following can thus be written: (6) . Consider instead bursty links which will be UP for most of the time and DOWN sporadically. This part of the system is in fact equivalent to an LTI system. For small samquences that maximize the gain from to . When they are restored DOWN for to UP.TEO et al. One of the vehicle’s link has to be UP for there to be an impact on spacing control. letting and both . when both links are DOWN. the transfer function to is identical to the case in which the links are from always UP. For real-life implementation. On hindsight. For can be seen that monotonically increases up to . Outline of proof: The proof can be derived by individually examining the terms of the expansion of the second term of (5). This nullifies the effect of link losses on this component of the transfer function. the link loss statistics and the peak spacing error that can be tolerated. [refer to Proposition 1: If for and if . and pling period which implies [see (1)]. Intuitively. (Proposition 1) for the period This shows that the spacing error of all vehicles in a string will be bounded by some finite factor of the peak value of the acceleration of the lead vehicle. . The second conclusion can be stated as the following theorem. (10) (7) Remark 1: It implies that the worst case condition occurs when either the vehicle’s link or its preceding vehicle’s link is down BUT not when both are down simultaneously. the link outages are less than peak acceleration is and the outages are spaced out by at least . it if boundedness attenuation. in the absence of lead vehicle accelerations and with the appropriate choice of controller gains. impulse response of (1). Theorem 1: Let the settling time of the spacing controller under no link loss conditions be and the value of be computed for a link outage duration of . these results can be used as a design guide that gives the relationships among the peak acceleration permitted. This may not usually occur in practice but would give a guaranteed upper bound on . Let [s] be the minimum time the links remain UP in between outages. If we assume that the settling time of system is less than or equal to [s]. where is the Thus. In fact. and with link losses. Last. then . NUMERICAL EXAMPLE The case of 3 s. we find those that minimize the effect of datalink losses on . the worst-case effects of . VI. These numbers represent typical systems which would have speed control settling times of around 3 seconds and wireless links enabling 10 Hz small packet broadcasts with losses not lasting more than 1 s. in the presence of lead vehicle accelerations and upstream disturbances in spacing errors. is derived. the gradient. then the (1)]. . where is the induced -norm from to Consider now the contribution from as represented by which can be obtained by finding the switching and input se. Thus. maximum absolute value of is obtained when . the system retains string stability even in the presence of link losses in that upstream spacing error disturbances attenuate as they propagate downstream along the string. is unbounded with It can be seen from (7) that increasing . are cascaded together leading to a worstvehicle case accumulative effect on vehicle as in (9) . would be given by the application of the worst-case link loss and switching sequence [s]. . The analysis above can now be summed up as follows. and for . could grow. and monotonically decreases to if . If both and have lost links with the lead vehicle and are vehicles estimating the lead vehicle state simultaneously. it is guaranteed that the spacing error will be bounded as in (9). It can be seen by inspection of (5) that the products involving (for all ) are independent of the link status parameter. this is because the lead vehicle is predicted to travel at constant speed during link losses. . If the lead vehicle’s . . The expansion gives Now. the spacing error can be bounded as per (8). 1 s is now studied to check the analysis above. To choose the control law gains. there is no impact on spacing control. they are in fact computing their controls with respect to a virtual but common vehicle. and or when . Therefore where To find that maximizes . there is an intuitive explanation for this. can be computed. When they are [s]. Using (8).

cient is set to greater than or equal to . This is due to the changing link status. and values: 0. It is determined that. . 1. MARCH 2010 Fig. Time history of 10 vehicles following lead vehicle’s 4-s 1 m/s acceleration. Let the dominant poles of the closedoutage duration of and let .e. The minimization problem produces the gains. settling time. a Monte Carlo simulation of 500 runs is performed. . i. CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE WORK This paper studies the effect of intermittent losses of the lead vehicle’s state on leader-to-formation stability.. (system poles. those that minimize which is computed for an . where is the domain characteristics are related by sampling period. 1. are in the unit circle for system stability) and (control gains are bounded which will in turn limit the size of the control inputs). 2. VII. this also sets a limit ( is chosen to be less than on the overshoot).1 s. . Emulating the links as first order Markov models where the probability of the link going UP when previously UP is and when previously DOWN is . For the study. The approximations of rise time. and damping coefficient in the first three constraints are good for second order systems [23]. 1 to achieve string stability during perfect communications).472 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY. NO. for bursty links. over subject to Problem: To minimize (rise time is set to less than ). The results. 18. this corresponds to a case of “boundedness”. VOL. the spacing error will not exceed some bound which is some finite factor of the peak value of the lead vehicle’s acceleration. with . shows that for ). loop system of (5) be Recall that -domain and -domain poles with identical time. Future work might be to estimate the lead vehicle’s state by assuming that the last known acceleration is maintained. which give . The following controller design problem is thus proposed. With reference to (10). (settling (damping coeffitime is set to less than ). leader-to-formation stability can be retained if the lead vehicle indeed maintains its speed and if not. The design is performed with the following . the simulation for 10 vehicles led by a lead vehicle which performs an acceleration of 1 m/s for 4 s causing the speed of the string to increase from 20 to 24 m/s. This . r = 0:6 FOR VARIOUS CUMULATIVE PROBABILITIES TABLE I To check that the spacing error bound is respected. the vehicles estimate the lead vehicle’s state during losses by assuming that it would maintain its speed. (ks k )=(ka k ) WITH q = 0:6. Note that the spacing error attenuates from vehicles 1 to 4 and thereafter are clearly bounded. is shown in Fig. as in (as computed Table I. The acceleration input of all vehicles appear noisy. A steepest descent gradient search is used together with penalty functions.

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