Leader-Based Trajectory Following in Unstructured Environments—From Concept to Real-World Implementation

Georg Nestlinger*, Johannes Rumetshofer, Selim Solmaz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, the problem of vehicle guidance by means of an external leader is described. The objective is to navigate a four-wheeled vehicle through unstructured environments, characterized by the lack of availability of typical guidance infrastructure like lane markings or HD maps. The trajectory-following approach is based on an estimate of the leader’s path. For that, position measurements are stored over time with respect to an inertial frame. A new strategy is proposed to rate the significance of position measurements and ensure that a certain threshold of stored samples is not exceeded. Having an estimate of the leader path is essential to prevent the cutting-corner phenomenon and for exact path following in general. A spline-approximation technique is applied to obtain a smooth reference path for the underlying lateral and longitudinal motion controllers. For longitudinal tracking, a constant time-headway policy was implemented, to follow the leader with a constant time gap along the estimated path. The algorithm was first developed and tested in a simulation framework and then deployed in a demonstrator vehicle for validation under real operating conditions. The presented experimental results were achieved using only on-board sensors of the demonstrator vehicle, while high-accuracy differential GPS-based position measurements serve as the ground truth data for visualization
Original languageEnglish
Article number1866
Number of pages14
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2022


  • path following
  • path tracking
  • spline approximation
  • splines
  • vehicle following

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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