Two-layer distributed formation-containment control strategy for linear swarm systems: Algorithm and experiments

Junyan Hu, Parijat Bhowmick, Alexander Lanzon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper addresses the problem of designing a two-layer distributed formation containment control scheme for linear time-invariant swarm systems with directed communication topology, where the states of the leaders attain a pre-specified timevarying/stationary formation and the states of the followers converge into the convex hull spanned by the states of the leaders. To achieve formation-containment, a set of distributed control protocols is developed utilizing the neighbouring state information, which enables the proposed scheme operate without using global information about the entire interaction topology. The conditions to achieve formation containment are suggested and a theoretical proof of the proposed scheme is also derived exploiting the Lyapunov stability approach. An algorithm is written to provide systematic guidelines on how to implement the control protocols in practice. It is argued that the consensus problem, formation tracking problem, and containment
control problem can all be viewed as special cases of formation-containment. A simulation case study has been presented to demonstrate the usefulness and effectiveness of the proposed scheme and moreover, lab-based hardware experiments involving networked mobile robots were performed to test the feasibility of the scheme in real-time implementation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control
Early online date2 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2020


  • formation-containment
  • cooperative control
  • swarm system
  • Lyapunov stability
  • robotics


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