Practicals & Theses

List of practicals and theses at the institute (see also TI Research Presentations)

Details for Self-organizing Flight Formations

Long distance migrating birds, such as geese, are often observed travelling in v-shaped formations. This coordinated flight allows birds flying in the back to exploit an effect called upwash. This upwash gives individuals, flying in the right spot behind another bird, an aero dynamical benefit. As a result these birds require less energy and in turn the entire flock is able to conserve energy and hence travel further.


In this project, we are interested in how birds organize themselves in order to fly in v-formation without or only very little information exchange among the individuals of the flock. Upon achieving a staggered formation, a trade-off between leading the flock and conserving energy by exploiting the upwash arises for the individual birds. Decisions such as who leads the formation and when to change leadership has to be decided in a distributed fashion within the flock of birds while keeping the v-formation.

In simulation we aim to control individual unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in order to achieve a collective formation. In addition, we also look for new ways to achieve efficient global trade-offs between travelled distance and consumed energy. This challenging task requires to:

  • design novel self-organizing approaches for collective formation building
  • evaluate the performance of the self-organizing approach using local controllers against the performance of an optimal global controller
  • transfer the best performing approaches from simulation to real UAVs and perform experimental evaluation

Required Skills

To achieve these challenging goals you should have good programming skills.


Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.rer.nat. Radu GROSU (main responsibility)