Coordinated standoff tracking of moving target groups using multiple UAVs

This paper presents a coordinated standoff tracking methodology of moving target groups using multiple UAVs. The vector field guidance approach for a single UAV is first applied to track a group of targets by defining a variable standoff orbit to be followed, which can keep all targets within the field-of view of the UAV. A new feedforward term is included in the guidance command considering variable standoff distance, and the convergence of the vector field to the standoff orbit is analysed and enhanced by adjusting radial velocity using two active measures associated with vector field generation. Moreover, for multiple group tracking by multiple UAVs, a two-phase approach is proposed as a suboptimal solution for an NP-hard problem, consisting of target clustering/assignment and cooperative standoff group tracking with online local replanning. Lastly, localisation sensitivity to the group of targets is investigated for different angular separations between UAVs and sensing configurations. Numerical simulations are performed using randomly moving ground vehicles with multiple UAVs to verify the feasibility and benefit of the proposed approach.