Decentralized Navigation of a UAV Team for Collaborative Covert Eavesdropping on a Group of Mobile Ground Nodes

Hailong Huang, Andrey V. Savkin, Wei Ni

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are increasingly applied to surveillance tasks, thanks to their excellent mobility and flexibility. Different from existing works using UAVs for video surveillance, this paper employs a UAV team to carry out collaborative radio surveillance on ground moving nodes and disguise the purpose of surveillance. We consider two aspects of disguise. The first is that the UAVs do not communicate with each other (or the ground nodes can notice), and each UAV plans its trajectory in a decentralized way. The other aspect of disguise is that the UAVs avoid being noticed by the nodes for which a metric quantifying the disguising performance is adopted. We present a new decentralized method for the online trajectory planning of the UAVs, which maximizes the disguising metric while maintaining uninterrupted surveillance and avoiding UAV collisions. Based on the model predictive control (MPC) technique, our method allows each UAV to separately estimate the locations of the UAVs and the ground nodes, and decide its trajectory accordingly. The impact of potential estimation errors is mitigated by incorporating the error bounds into the online trajectory planning, hence achieving a robust control of the trajectories. Computer-based simulation results demonstrate that the developed strategy ensures the surveillance requirement without losing disguising performance, and outperforms existing alternatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Autonomous aerial vehicles
  • decentralized control
  • Eavesdropping
  • model predictive control (MPC)
  • radio surveillance
  • Signal to noise ratio
  • Surveillance
  • Trajectory
  • Trajectory planning
  • trajectory planning.
  • unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
  • Wireless communication
  • Wireless communications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Cite this