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Decentralized Control of Vehicle Formations
Mathematics and Statistics Faculty Publications and Presentations
  • Gerardo Lafferriere, Portland State University
  • Anca Williams, Portland State University
  • John S. Caughman, IV, Portland State University
  • J. J. P. Veerman, Portland State University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Control theory -- Mathematical models,
  • Multiagent systems -- Stability,
  • Feedback control systems,
  • Laplacian matrices

This paper investigates a method for decentralized stabilization of vehicle formations using techniques from algebraic graph theory. The vehicles exchange information according to a pre-specified communication digraph, G. A feedback control is designed using relative information between a vehicle and its in-neighbors in G. We prove that a necessary and sufficient condition for an appropriate decentralized linear stabilizing feedback to exist is that G has a rooted directed spanning tree. We show the direct relationship between the rate of convergence to formation and the eigenvalues of the (directed) Laplacian of G. Various special situations are discussed, including symmetric communication graphs and formations with leaders. Several numerical simulations are used to illustrate the results.


This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Systems & Control Letters. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication.

A definitive version was subsequently published in Systems & Control Letters and can be found online at:

Persistent Identifier
Citation Information
Gerardo Lafferriere, Anca Williams, John S. Caughman and J. J. P. Veerman. "Decentralized Control of Vehicle Formations" (2004)
Available at: