A passivity-based decentralized strategy for generalized connectivity maintenance

Paolo Robuffo Giordano, Antonio Franchi, Cristian Secchi, Heinrich H. Bülthoff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)


The design of decentralized controllers coping with the typical constraints on the inter-robot sensing/communication capabilities represents a promising direction in multi-robot research thanks to the inherent scalability and fault tolerance of these approaches. In these cases, connectivity of the underlying interaction graph plays a fundamental role: it represents a necessary condition for allowing a group or robots to achieve a common task by resorting to only local information. The goal of this paper is to present a novel decentralized strategy able to enforce connectivity maintenance for a group of robots in a flexible way, that is, by granting large freedom to the group internal configuration so as to allow establishment/deletion of interaction links at anytime as long as global connectivity is preserved. A peculiar feature of our approach is that we are able to embed into a unique connectivity preserving action a large number of constraints and requirements for the group: (i) the presence of specific inter-robot sensing/communication models; (ii) group requirements such as formation control; and (iii) individual requirements such as collision avoidance. This is achieved by defining a suitable global potential function of the second smallest eigenvalue λ2 of the graph Laplacian, and by computing, in a decentralized way, a gradient-like controller built on top of this potential. Simulation results obtained with a group of quadrotor unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles, and experimental results obtained with four quadrotor UAVs, are finally presented to thoroughly illustrate the features of our approach on a concrete case study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-323
Number of pages25
JournalInternational journal of robotics research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Algebraic graph theory
  • Bilateral shared control
  • Connectivity maintenance
  • Decentralized control
  • Decentralized estimation
  • Mobile robotics
  • Multi-robot systems
  • Passivity-based control


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