Decentralized UAV guidance using modified boid algorithms

Clark, Jason
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Source URI
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Aerospace Engineering
Organizational Unit
Journal Issue

Decentralized guidance of Unoccupied Air Vehicles (UAVs) is a very challenging problem. Such technology can lead to improved safety, reduced cost, and improved mission efficiency. Only a few ideas for achieving decentralized guidance exist, the most effective being the boid algorithm. Boid algorithms are rule-based guidance methods derived from observations of animal swarms. In this paper, boid rules are used to autonomously control a group of UAVs in high-level transit simulations. This paper differs from previous work in that, as an alternative to using exponentially scaled behavior weightings, the weightings are computed off-line and scheduled according to a contingency management system. The motivation for this technique is to reduce the amount of on-line computation required by the flight system. Many modifications to the basic boid algorithm are required in order to achieve a flightworthy design. These modifications include the ability to define flight areas, limit turning maneuvers in accordance with the aircraft dynamics, and produce intelligent waypoint paths. The use of a contingency management system is also a major modification to the boid algorithm. A Simple Genetic Algorithm is used to partially optimize the behavior weightings of the boid algorithm. While a full optimization of all contingencies is not performed due to computation requirements, the framework for such a process is developed. Wolfram's Matlab software is used to develop and simulate the boid guidance algorithm. The algorithm is interfaced with Cloud Cap Technology's Piccolo autopilot system for Hardware-in-the-Loop simulations. These high-fidelity simulations prove this technology is both feasible and practical. They also prove the boid guidance system developed herein is suitable for comprehensive flight testing.

Aerospace engineering