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Published June 2017 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

Distributed Fast Motion Planning for Spacecraft Swarms in Cluttered Environments Using Spherical Expansions and Sequence of Convex Optimization Problems


This paper presents a novel guidance algorithm for spacecraft swarms in an environment cluttered with many obstacles like a debris field or the asteroid belt. The objective of this algorithm is to reconfigure the swarm to a desired formation in a distributed manner while minimizing fuel and avoiding collisions among themselves and with the obstacles. The agents first use a spherical-expansion-based sampling algorithm to cooperatively explore the workspace and find paths to the desired terminal positions. Using a distributed assignment algorithm, the agents converge on an optimal assignment of the target locations in the desired formation. Then each agent generates a locally optimal trajectory from its current location to its terminal position by solving a sequence of convex optimization problems. As the agent moves along this trajectory, it receives the position of other agents and updates its trajectory to avoid collisions with other agents and the obstacles. Thus the swarm achieves the desired formation in a distributed manner while avoiding collisions. Moreover, this algorithm is computationally efficient, therefore it can be implemented onboard resource-constrained spacecraft. Simulations results show that the proposed distributed algorithm can be used by a spacecraft swarm to reconfigure a desired formation around an asteroid in a collision-free manner.

Additional Information

©2017 California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship acknowledged. This work was supported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Research and Technology Development (R&TD) program. Part of the research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023