In this paper, a novel modelling and a hybrid formation control approach for the autonomous navigation for group of mobile robots in a specified formation is proposed. The hybrid approach consists of layered behaviour based control architecture with the behaviours classified into two levels. The supervisor level in the architecture handles the high-level missions such as formation and interobot communication, and the lower level deals with the dynamic control of the robots when navigating in the environment. The switching between the formation and the navigation is done based on the local information and the assigned role of the robots in the group. A modelling framework is also presented in this paper, where the individual behaviours of the hybrid formation control approach are modelled as temporal states and the performance of the approach is analysed through simulations. Experimental investigations have also been performed by using two commercially available robot research platforms. The results obtained are presented and discussed. Copyright © 2011 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.