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Title: System design and nonlinear state-dependent Riccati equation control of an autonomous Y-4 tilt-rotor aerobot for Martian exploration
Author: Collins, Nathan S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 1023
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2016
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Surrey Space Centre (SSC) has been working on an autonomous fixed-wing all-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerobot for the exploration of Mars for several years. SSC’s previous designs have incorporated separate vertical lift and horizontal pusher rotors as well as a mono tilt-rotor configuration. The Martian aerobot’s novel Y-4 tilt-rotor (Y4TR) design is a combination of two previous SSC designs and a step forward for planetary aerobots. The aerobot will fly as a Y4 multi-rotor during vertical flight and as a conventional flying wing during horizontal flight. The more robust Y4TR configuration utilizes two large fixed coaxial counter rotating rotors and two small tilt-rotors for vertical takeoff. The front tilt-rotors rotate during transition flight into the main horizontal flight configuration. The aerobot is a blended wing design with the wings using the "Zagi 10" airfoil blended to a center cover for the coaxial rotors. The open source design and analysis programs XROTOR, CROTOR, Q-BLADE, XFLR5, and OpenVSP were used to design and model the aerobot’s four rotors and body. The baseline mission of the Y4TR remains the same as previously reported and will investigate the Isidis Planitia region on Mars over a month long period using optical sensors during flight and a surface science package when landed. During flight operations the aerobot will take off vertically, transition to horizontal flight, fly for around an hour, transition back to vertical flight, and land vertically. The flight missions will take place close to local noon to maximize power production via solar cells during flight. A nonlinear six degree of freedom (6DoF) dynamic model incorporating aerodynamic models of the aerobot’s body and rotors has been developed to model the vertical, transition, and horizontal phases of flight. A nonlinear State-Dependent Riccati Equation (SDRE) controller has been developed for each of these flight phases. The nonlinear dynamic model was transformed into a pseudo-linear form based on the states and implemented in the SDRE controller. During transition flight the aerobot is over actuated and the weighted least squares (WLS) method is used for allocation of control effectors. Simulations of the aerobot flying in different configurations were performed to verify the performance of the SDRE controllers, including hover, transition, horizontal flight, altitude changes, and landing scenarios. Results from the simulations show the SDRE controller is a viable option for controlling the novel Y4TR Martian Aerobot.
Supervisor: Underwood, Craig I. Sponsor: Surrey Space Centre ; United States Air Force
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available