A Low-Cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Research Platform: Development, Modeling and Advanced Control Implementation
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This dissertation describes the development and modeling of a low-cost, open source, and reliable small fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for advanced control implementation. The platform is mostly constructed of low-cost commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components. The only non-COTS components are the airdata probes which are manufactured and calibrated in-house, following a procedure provided herein. The airframe used is the commercially available radio-controlled 6-foot Telemaster airplane from Hobby Express. The airplane is chosen mainly for its adequately spacious fuselage and for being reasonably stable and sufficiently agile. One noteworthy feature of this platform is the use of two separate low-cost open source onboard computers for handling the data management/hardware interfacing and control computation. Specifically, the single board computer, Gumstix Overo Fire, is used to execute the control algorithms, whereas the autopilot, Ardupilot Mega, is mostly used to interface the Overo computer with the sensors and actuators. The platform supports multi-vehicle operations through the use of a radio modem that enables multi-point communications. As the goal of the development of this platform is to implement rigorous control algorithms for real-time trajectory tracking and distributed control, it is important to derive an appropriate flight dynamic model of the platform, based on which the controllers will be synthesized. For that matter, reasonably accurate models of the vehicle, servo motors and propulsion system are developed. Namely, the output error method is used to estimate the longitudinal and lateral-directional aerodynamic parameters from flight test data. The moments of inertia of the platform are determined using the simple pendulum test method, and the frequency response of each servomotor is also obtained experimentally. The Javaprop applet is used to obtain lookup tables relating airspeed to propeller thrust at constant throttle settings. Control systems are also designed for the regulation of this UAV along real-time trajectories. The reference trajectories are generated in real-time from a library of pre-specified motion primitives and hence are not known a priori. Two concatenated primitive trajectories are considered: one formed from seven primitives exhibiting a figure-8 geometric path and another composed of a Split-S maneuver that settles into a level-turn trim trajectory. Switched control systems stemming from l2-induced norm synthesis approaches are designed for discrete-time linearized models of the nonlinear UAV system. These controllers are analyzed based on simulations in a realistic operational environment and are further implemented on the physical UAV. The simulations and flight tests demonstrate that switched controllers, which take into account the effects of switching between constituent sub-controllers, manage to closely track the considered trajectories despite the various modeling uncertainties, exogenous disturbances and measurement noise. These switched controllers are composed of discrete-time linear sub-controllers designed separately for a subset of the pre-specified primitives, with the uncertain initial conditions, that arise when switching between primitives, incorporated into the control design.
- Doctoral Dissertations