Self-stabilizing robot formations over unreliable networks

Seth Gilbert, Nancy Lynch, Sayan Mitra, Tina Nolte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We describe how a set of mobile robots can arrange themselves on any specified curve on the plane in the presence of dynamic changes both in the underlying ad hoc network and in the set of participating robots. Our strategy is for the mobile robots to implement a self-stabilizing virtual layer consisting of mobile client nodes, stationary Virtual Nodes (VNs), and local broadcast communication. The VNs are associated with predetermined regions in the plane and coordinate among themselves to distribute the client nodes relatively uniformly among the VNs' regions. Each VN directs its local client nodes to align themselves on the local portion of the target curve. The resulting motion coordination protocol is self-stabilizing, in that each robot can begin the execution in any arbitrary state and at any arbitrary location in the plane. In addition, self-stabilization ensures that the robots can adapt to changes in the desired target formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009


  • Cooperative mobile robotics
  • Distributed algorithms
  • Formal methods
  • Pattern formation
  • Replicated state machines
  • Self-stabilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Software

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