Decentralized control of large vehicular formations: stability margin and sensitivity to external disturbances, arXiv
We study the stability and robustness of large-scale vehicular formations, in which each vehicle is modeled as a double-integrator. Two types of information graphs are considered: directed trees and undirected graphs. We prove stability of the formation with arbitrary number of vehicles for linear as well as a class of nonlinear controllers. In the case of linear control, we provide quantitative scaling laws of the stability margin and sensitivity to external disturbances (H-infinity norm) with respect to the number of vehicles $N$ in the formation. It is shown that the formation with directed tree graph achieves size-independent stability margin but suffers from high algebraic growth of initial errors. The stability margin in case of the undirected graph decays to 0 as at least $O(1/N)$. In addition, we show that the sensitivity to external disturbances in directed tree graphs is geometric in $k$ where $k <= N$ is the number of generations of the directed tree, while that of the undirected graph is only quadratic in $N$. In particular, for 1-D vehicular platoons, we obtain precise formulae for the H-infinity norm of the transfer function from the disturbances to the position errors. It is shown that the H-infinity norm scales as $O(\alpha^N) (\alpha>1)$ for predecessor-following architecture, but only as $O(N^3)$ for symmetric bidirectional architectures. For a class of nonlinear controllers, numerical simulations show that the transient response due to initial errors and sensitivity to external disturbances are improved considerably for the formation with directed tree graphs. However, by using the nonlinear controller considered, little improvement can be made for that with undirected graphs.