Safety with limited range sensing constraints for fixed wing aircraft

E. Squires, R. Konda, P. Pierpaoli, S. Coogan, M. Egerstedt
International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2021


In this paper we discuss how to use a barrier function that is subject to kinematic constraints and limited sensing in order to guarantee that fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will maintain safe distances from each other at all times despite being subject to limited range sensing constraints. Prior work has shown that a barrier function can be used to guarantee safe system operation when the state can be sensed at all times. However, in this paper we show that this construction does not guarantee safety when the UAVs are subject to limited range sensing. To resolve this issue, we introduce a method for constructing a new barrier function that accommodates limited sensing range from a previously existing barrier function that may not necessarily accommodate limited range sensing. We show that, under appropriate conditions, the newly constructed barrier function ensures system safety even in the presence of limited range sensing. We demonstrate the contribution of this paper in a scenario of 20 fixed wing aircraft, where because of the proposed algorithm, the vehicles are able to maintain safe distances from each other even though the vehicles are subject to limited range sensing.