Flight control system for a variable stability blended-wing-body unmanned aerial vehicle
Thesis (MScEng (Electrical and Electronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.
This thesis presents the analysis, design, simulation and practical implementation of a novel control system for a variable stability blended-wing-body unmanned aerial vehicle. The aircraft has a moveable centre of mass that allows it to operate in an aerodynamically optimised minimum drag configuration during cruise flight. The primary purpose of the control system is thus to regain nominal static stability for all centre of mass positions, and then to further regulate motion variables for autonomous way point navigation. A thorough analysis of the parameters affected by the varying centre of mass position leads to the identification of the main control problem. It is shown that a recently published acceleration based control methodology can be used with minor modification to elegantly solve the variable stability control problem. After providing the details of the control system design, the customised avionics used for their practical implementation are presented. The results of extensive hardware in the loop simulations verify the functionality of the controllers. Finally, flight test results illustrate the practical success of the autopilot and clearly show how the control system is capable of controlling the variable stability aircraft at centre of mass locations where a human pilot could not.