Decentralized PD control for multi-robot collective transport to a target location using minimal information

Hamed Farivarnejad, Spring Berman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


In this paper, we propose decentralized position controllers for a team of point-mass robots that must cooperatively transport a payload to a target location. The robots have double-integrator dynamics and are rigidly attached to the payload. The controllers only require robots' measurements of their own positions and velocities, and the only information provided to the robots is the desired position of the payload's center of mass. We consider scenarios in which the robots do not know the position of the payload's center of mass and try to selfishly stabilize their own positions to the desired location, similar to the behaviors exhibited by certain species of ants when retrieving food items in groups. We propose a proportional-derivative (PD) controller that does not rely on inter-robot communication, prior information about the load dynamics and geometry, or knowledge of the number of robots and their distribution around the payload. Using a Lyapunov argument, we prove that under this control strategy, the payload's center of mass converges to a neighborhood of the desired position. Moreover, we prove that the payload's rotation is bounded, and its angular velocity converges to zero. We show that the error between the steady-state position of the payload's center of mass and its desired position depends on the robots' distribution around the payload's center of mass, with a uniform distribution resulting in the lowest steady-state error. We validate our theoretical results with simulations in MATLAB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUnmanned Systems Technology XXII
EditorsHoa G. Nguyen, Paul L. Muench, Charles M. Shoemaker
ISBN (Electronic)9781510636279
StatePublished - 2020
EventUnmanned Systems Technology XXII 2020 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: Apr 27 2020May 8 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceUnmanned Systems Technology XXII 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online


  • Collective payload transport
  • Decentralized control
  • Multi-robot systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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