Journal article

Ant-based Swarming with Positionless Micro Air Vehicles for Communication Relay

Swarming without positioning information is interesting in application- oriented systems because it alleviates the need for sensors which are dependent on the environment, expensive in terms of energy, cost, size and weight, or unusable at useful ranges for real-life scenarios. This principle is applied to the development of a swarm of micro air vehicles (SMAVs) for the deployment of ad hoc wireless communication networks (SMAVNETs) between ground users in disaster areas. Rather than relying on positioning information, MAVs rely on local communication with immediate neighbors and proprioceptive sensors which provide heading, speed and altitude. To solve the challenging task of designing agent controllers to achieve the swarm behavior of the SMAVNET, inspiration is taken from army ants which are capable of laying and maintaining pheromone paths leading from their nest to food sources in nature. This is analogous to the deployment of communication pathways between multiple ground users. However, instead of being physically deposited in the air or on a map, pheromone is virtually deposited on the MAVs using local communication. This approach is investigated in 3D simulation in a simplified scenario with two ground users.

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