Modelling and Control of Small-Scale Helicopter on a Test Platform
Lai, Gilbert Ming Yeung
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The helicopter is a Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) system with highly coupled characteristics, which increases the complexity of the system dynamics. In addition, the system dynamics of the helicopter are unstable, referring to its tendency to deviate from an equilibrium when disturbed. Despite the complexity in its modelling and control, the benefit of using a helicopter for unmanned, autonomous applications can be tremendous. One particular application that motivates this research is the use of an unmanned small-scale helicopter in an autonomous survey mission over an area struck by disaster, such as an earthquake. The work presented in this thesis provides a framework for utilizing a platform system for research and development of small-scale helicopter systems. A platform system enables testing and analysis to be performed indoor in a controlled environment. This can provide a more convenient mean for helicopter research since the system is not affected by environmental elements, such as wind, rain or snow condition. However, the presence of the platform linkages poses challenges for analysis and controller design as it alters the helicopter system flight dynamics. Through a six degree-of-freedom (6 DOF) platform model derived in this research, the criteria for matching the trim conditions between the platform system and a stand alone helicopter have been identified. With the matched trim conditions, linearization is applied to perform analysis on the effects that the platform has on the system dynamics. The results of the analysis provide insights into both the limitations and benefits of utilizing the platform system for helicopter research. Finally, a Virtual Joint Control scheme is proposed as an unified control strategy for both the platform and the stand alone helicopter systems. Having a consistent control scheme between the two systems allows for comparisons between simulation and experimental results for the two systems to be made more readily. Furthermore, the Virtual Joint Control scheme represents a novel flight control strategy for stand alone helicopter systems.