Outdoor cooperative flight using decentralized consensus algorithm and a guaranteed real-time communication protocol

Apurva Joshi, Ankit Wala, Mohit Ludhiyani, Debraj Chakraborty, Hoam Chung, D. Manjunath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper describes the implementation of a decentralized consensus law with theoretically provable convergence properties on a multi-agent testbed comprising of quadrotors. It is shown that for small roll and pitch angles and well-tuned control loops, the quadrotor dynamics can be approximated as a pair of double integrators. Several experiments are carried out in an outdoor environment for validation of the consensus law which is based on double integrator dynamics. For any arbitrary initial positions of the quadrotors, the consensus law is able to drive them to an autonomously decided common point, given that the communication graph is connected at each instant of time. The resulting experimental trajectories and the consensus point matches with theoretical predictions. For guaranteeing real-time reliability required for such coordinated motion, a novel synchronized, time-slotted, scalable and fully airborne communication protocol is proposed. The protocol avoids data collisions and ensures real-time, reliable communication between agents. It can also address changing communication graph topologies, temporary link-breaks and additions. Using this underlying protocol, the quadrotors attain consensus for static and dynamic communication graphs. Experiments to observe the effect of communication rate on consensus performance are also conducted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-140
Number of pages13
JournalControl Engineering Practice
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Autonomous robots
  • Cooperative systems
  • Decentralized control
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Wireless networks

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