This paper deals with the leader-following cooperative output regulation problem for heterogeneous multi-agent systems by considering a switched leader dynamics. The switched leader dynamics is composed by multiple linear models and a switching rule governing the switches among them, which is capable of generating more diverse and sophisticated reference signals so as to enhance the multi-agent system’s capability in coping with more complicated coordination tasks. A novel distributed switching control scheme, namely, the smooth switching control strategy, is proposed to achieve cooperative output regulation performance. Distributed switching stability of the overall network is established using multiple Lyapunov functions from the switching control theory. Moreover, under the proposed design framework, the overall cooperative switching output regulation problem can be decomposed into several independent switching stabilization subproblems, and the associated switching control synthesis conditions for each subproblems are formulated as a set of linear matrix inequalities (LMIs) plus linear algebraic equations. As a result, stabilizing switching rules for the leader and distributed switching protocols for the follower agents can be jointly synthesized via semi-definite programming. A numerical example has been used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach.

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