Professor DUAN Haibin and his group members (LUO Qinan and YU Yaxiang) from the Science and Technology in Aircraft Control Laboratory, School of Automation Science and Electrical Engineering, Beihang University set out to tackle this problem. Through 5 years of innovative research, they investigated the trophallactic mechanism behind social insects and developed a novel trophallaxis network control method for formation flight.
Trophallactic is a new swarm search algorithm. This new mechanism is based on the trophallactic behavior of social insects, animals and birds, such as ants, bees, wasps, sheep, dogs, sparrows and swallows. Trophallaxis is the exchange of fluid by direct mouth-to-mouth contact. Animal studies revealed that trophallaxis can reinforce the exchange and sharing of information between individual animals. By imitating that behavior and considering the communication requirements of the network control system, a network control method was proposed. The method was derived from the following example. A honeybee that finds the feeder fills its nectar crop with the offered sugar solution, and if the bee meets another bee on its way, there can be trophallactic contact. The higher the metabolic rate of the bee is, the higher this consumption rate will be. The attractive aspect of the trophallaxis mechanism is the ability to incorporate information transfer as a biological process and use global information to generate an optimal control sequence at each time step.
This research project was supported in part by a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China. It is an important breakthrough in the recent history of formation flight. The researchers suggest that their work needs to be put into practice and examined in the formation control field and that the trophallactic mechanisms of social insects should be further studied. These efforts will have significant impact on the formation control of various (marine, ground, aeronautical, and astronautical) vehicle systems.
See the article: Duan H B, Luo Q N, Yu Y X. Trophallaxis network control approach to formation flight of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles. Sci China Tech Sci, 2013, Vol. 56 (5): 1066, http://tech.scichina.com:8082/sciEe/EN/abstract/abstract510833.shtml
Science China Press Co., Ltd. (SCP) is a scientific journal publishing company of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). For 50 years, SCP takes its mission to present to the world the best achievements by Chinese scientists on various fields of natural sciences researches.
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