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Title: Towards autonomy of a quadrotor UAV
Author: Cowling, Ian
ISNI:       0000 0004 2670 0937
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2008
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As the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles rapidly increases, there is a growing interest in rotary vehicles as well as fixed wing. The quadrotor is small agile rotary vehicle controlled by variable speed prop rotors. With no need for a swash plate the vehicle is low cost as well as dynamically simple. In order to achieve autonomous flight, any potential control algorithm must include trajectory generation and trajectory following. Trajectory generation can be done using direct or indirect methods. Indirect methods provide an optimal solution but are hard to solve for anything other than the simplest of cases. Direct methods in comparison are often sub-optimal but can be applied to a wider range of problems. Trajectory optimization is typically performed within the control space, however, by posing the problem in the output space, the problem can be simplified. Differential flatness is a property of some dynamical systems which allows dynamic inversion and hence, output space optimization. Trajectory following can be achieved through any number of linear control techniques, this is demonstrated whereby a single trajectory is followed using LQR, this scheme is limited however, as the vehicle is unable to adapt to environmental changes. Model based predictive control guarantees constraint satisfaction at every time step, this however is time consuming and therefore, a combined controller is proposed benefiting from the adaptable nature of MBPC and the robustness and simplicity of LQR control. There are numerous direct methods for trajectory optimization both in the output and control space. Taranenko’s direct method has a number of benefits over other techniques, including the use of a virtual argument, which separates the optimal path and the speed problem. This enables the algorithm to solve the optimal time problem, the optimal fuel problem or a combination of the two, without a deviation from the optimal path. In order to implement such a control scheme, the issues of feedback, communication and control action computation, require consideration. This work discusses the issues with instrumentation and communication encountered when developing the control system and provides open loop test results. This work also extends the proposed control schemes to consider the problem of multiple vehicle flight rendezvous. Specifically the problem of rendezvous when there is no communication link, limited visibility and no agreed rendezvous point. Using Taranenko’s direct method multiple vehicle rendezvous is simulated.
Supervisor: Whidborne, James F. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available