Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Systems Engineering


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

John M. Colombi, PhD.


The purpose of this research was to develop a testable swarm architecture such that the swarm of UAVs collaborate as a team rather than acting as several independent vehicles. Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components were used as they were low-cost, readily available, and previously proven to work with at least two networked UAVs. Initial testing was performed via software-in-the-loop (SITL) demonstrating swarming of three simulated multirotor aircraft, then transitioned to real hardware. The architecture was then tested in an outdoor nylon netting enclosure. Command and control (C2) was provided by software implementing an enhanced version of Reynolds’ flocking rules via an onboard companion computer, and UDP multicast messages over a W-Fi mesh ad-hoc network. Experimental results indicate a standard deviation between vehicles of two meters or less, at airspeeds up to two meters per second. This aligns with navigation instrumentation error, permitting safe operation of multiple vehicles within five meters of each other. Qualitative observations indicate this architecture is robust enough to handle more aircraft, pass additional sensor data, and incorporate different swarming algorithms and missions.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number