We study minimalism in sensing and control by considering a multi-agent system in which each agent moves like a Dubins car and has a limited sensor that reports only the presence of another agent within some sector of its windshield. Using a simple quantized control law with three values, each agent tracks another agent (its target) assigned to it by maintaining that agent within this windshield sector. We use Lyapunov analysis to show that by acting autonomously in this way, the agents will achieve rendezvous given a connected initial assignment graph and the assumption that an agent and its target will merge into a single agent when they are sufficiently close. We then proceed to show that, by making the quantized control law slightly stronger, a connected initial assignment graph is not required and the sensing model can be weakened further. A distinguishing feature of our approach is that it does not involve any estimation procedure aimed at reconstructing coordinate information. Our scenario thus provides an example in which an interesting task is performed with extremely coarse sensing and control, and without state estimation. The system was implemented in computer simulation, accessible through the Web, of which the results are presented in the paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5783895
Pages (from-to)421-434
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Automatic Control
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Consensus
  • distributed control
  • minimalism
  • multiagent systems
  • rendezvous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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