Robust and Adaptive Control Methods for Small Aerial Vehicles
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Recent advances in sensor and microcomputer technology and in control and aeroydynamics theories has made small unmanned aerial vehicles a reality. The small size, low cost and manoueverbility of these systems has positioned them to be potential solutions in a large class of applications. However, the small size of these vehicles pose significant challenges. The small sensors used on these systems are much noisier than their larger counterparts.The compact structure of these vehicles also makes them more vulnerable to environmental effects. This work develops several different control strategies for two sUAV platforms and provides the rationale for judging each of the controllers based on a derivation of the dynamics, simulation studies and experimental results where possible. First, the coaxial helicopter platform is considered. This sUAV’s dual rotor system (along with its stabilizer bar technology) provides the ideal platform for safe, stable flight in a compact form factor. However, the inherent stability of the vehicle is achieved at the cost of weaker control authority and therefore an inability to achieve aggressive trajectories especially when faced with heavy wind disturbances. Three different linear control strategies are derived for this platform. PID, LQR and H∞ methods are tested in simulation studies. While the PID method is simple and intuitive, the LQR method is better at handling the decoupling required in the system. However the frequency domain design of the H∞ control method is better at suppressing disturbances and tracking more aggressive trajectories. The dynamics of the quadrotor are much faster than those of the coaxial helicopter. In the quadrotor, four independent fixed pitch rotors provide the required thrust. Differences between each of the rotors creates moments in the roll, pitch and yaw directions. This system greatly simplifies the mechanical complexity of the UAV, making quadrotors cheaper to maintain and more accessible. The quadrotor dynamics are derived in this work. Due to the lack of any mechanical stabilization system, these quadrotor dynamics are not inherently damped around hover. As such, the focus of the controller development is on using nonlinear techniques. Linear quadratic regulation methods are derived and shown to be inadequate when used in zones moderately outside hover. Within nonlinear methods, feedback linearization techniques are developed for the quadrotor using an inner/outer loop decoupling structure that avoids more complex variants of the feedback linearization methodology. Most nonlinear control methods (including feedback linearization) assume perfect knowledge of vehicle parameters. In this regard, simulation studies show that when this assumption is violated the results of the flight significantly deteriorate for quadrotors flying using the feedback linearization method. With this in mind, an adaptation law is devised around the nonlinear control method that actively modifies the plant parameters in an effort to drive tracking errors to zero. In simple cases with sufficiently rich trajectory requirements the parameters are able to adapt to the correct values (as verified by simulation studies). It can also adapt to changing parameters in flight to ensure that vehicle stability and controller performance is not compromised. However, the direct adaptive control method devised in this work has the added benefit of being able to modify plant parameters to suppress the effects of external disturbances as well. This is clearly shown when wind disturbances are applied to the quadrotor simulations. Finally, the nonlinear quadrotor controllers devised above are tested on a custom built quadrotor and autopilot platform. While the custom quadrotor is able to fly using the standard control methods, the specific controllers devised here are tested on a test bench that constrains the movement of the vehicle. The results of the tests show that the controller is able to sufficiently change the necessary parameter to ensure effective tracking in the presence of unmodelled disturbances and measurement error.