Agressive flight control techniques for a fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle

Gaum, Dunross Rudi (2009-03)

Thesis (MScEng (Electrical and Electronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

This thesis investigates aggressive all-attitude flight control systems. These are flight controllers capable of controlling an aircraft at any attitude and will enable the autonomous execution of manoeuvres such as high bank angle turns, steep climbs and aerobatic flight manoeuvres. This class of autopilot could be applied to carry out evasive combat manoeuvres or to create more efficient and realistic target drones. A model for the aircraft’s dynamics is developed in such a way that its high bandwidth specific force and moment model is split from its lower bandwidth kinematic model. This split is done at the aircraft’s specific acceleration and roll rate, which enables the design of simple, decoupled, linear attitude independent inner loop controllers to regulate these states. Two outer loop kinematic controllers are then designed to interface with these inner loop controllers to guide the aircraft through predefined reference trajectories. The first method involves the design of a linear quadratic regulator (LQR) based on the successively linearised kinematics, to optimally control the system. The second method involves specific acceleration matching (SAM) and results in a linear guidance controller that makes use of position based trajectories. These position based trajectories allow the aircraft’s velocity magnitude to be regulated independently of the trajectory tracking. To this end, two velocity regulation algorithms were developed. These involved methods of optimal control, implemented using dynamic programming, and energy analysis to regulate the aircraft’s velocity in a predictive manner and thereby providing significantly improved velocity regulation during aggressive aerobatic type manoeuvres. Hardware in the loop simulations and practical flight test data verify the theoretical results of all controllers presented

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