Objective This paper puts forward the “virtual wall method” as a novel formation approach intended to address such problems as the high communication volume, slow formation speed and inconvenient expansion of large-scale ship formation.
Method The proposed method uses local communication, sets virtual force according to the rules of nature to drive the ships to the target positions, and adjusts the formation to completion through the virtual wall.
Results The results show that the ship formations can be completed quickly according to the proximity principle using the proposed algorithm, and the communication volume is low without changing with the formation size. The effectiveness of this algorithm is verified by static, dynamic, rotation, scaling and obstacle avoidance simulations of ship formations.
Conclusion The virtual wall method features low communication volume, fast formation speed and convenient expansion, giving it significant advantages in the large-scale formation of ships.