Beat-based synchronization and steering for groups of fixed-wing flying robots
Groups of fixed-wing robots can benefit from moving in synchrony to share sensing and communication capabilities, avoid collisions or produce visually pleasing choreographies. For this reason, we provide a strategy to produce global group movement that can be steered while synchronizing the heading of the robots. This is especially challenging when using fixed-wing robots that require continuous forward motion to fly. In particular, performing trajectories with forward speed lower than the minimum speed of the robot can only be achieved by loitering while adapting the heading turn rate. Synchronizing such highly dynamical systems would typically require position information and entail frequent sensing and communication among robots within the group. Instead here we propose a simple controller that reacts to regular beats received through wireless transmissions. Thanks to these beats, robot headings synchronize over time. Furthermore, these controllers can be easily parameterized to steer and regulate the global progression speed of groups of robots. Finally, results are demonstrated both in simulation and with real flying robots.