Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control

Distributed Flight Array

Project Details


Start Date: September 2008
End Date: Ongoing



Maximilian Kriegleder
Prof. Raffaello D'Andrea


Lead Researchers:

Maximilian Kriegleder
Raymond Oung
Prof. Raffaello D'Andrea


Additional Participants:

Igor Thommen
Marc Corzillius

Individual vehicles self-assemble, coordinate, and take flight

We’ve all heard the expression: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Alone, these vehicles can drive about on the ground, but it is not until they assemble that they are able to fly.


The Distributed Flight Array is a flying platform consisting of multiple autonomous single propeller vehicles that are able to drive, dock with their peers, and fly in a coordinated fashion. Once in flight the array hovers for a few minutes, then falls back to the ground, only to repeat the cycle again.

Distributed Estimation and Control

The individual vehicles of the Distributed Flight Array have fixed propellers that can lift them into the air, but the resulting flight is erratic and uncontrolled. Joined together, however, these relatively simple modules evolve into a sophisticated multi-propeller system capable of coordinated flight. The task of keeping the array in level flight is distributed across the network of vehicles. Vehicles exchange information and combine this information with their own sensor measurements to determine how much thrust is needed for the array to take-off and maintain level flight. If the array’s leveled flight is disturbed, each vehicle individually determines the amount of thrust required to correct for the disturbance based on its position in the array and the array’s motion.

DFA cycle



Students that are interested in doing their Bachelor or Master's thesis on this project should contact Maximilian Kriegleder directly and provide a copy of their latest CV and transcripts. Some projects may be listed here.

Past Participants

Below is a list of past projects and participants:

Master Thesis
Semester Project
Bachelor Thesis
Studies on Mechatronics
!And Yet it Moves
Summer Internship

A special mention goes to Frédéric Bourgault and Matthew Donovan who are no longer at the institute, for their contribution to the design of the modules (rev. 1) and thoughtful discussions.


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