Adaptive Controller Development and Evaluation for a 6DOF Controllable Multirotor

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Virginia Tech


The omnicopter is a small unmanned aerial vehicle capable of executing decoupled translational and rotational motion (six degree of freedom, 6DOF, motion). The development of controllers for various 6DOF controllable multirotors has been much more limited than development for quadrotors, which makes selecting a controller for a 6DOF multirotor difficult. The omnicopter is subject to various uncertainties and disturbances from hardware changes, structural dynamics, and airflow, making adaptive controllers particularly interesting to investigate. The goal of this research is to design and evaluate the performance of various position and attitude controller combinations for the omnicopter, specifically focusing on adaptive controllers. Simulations are first used to compare combinations of three position controllers, PID, model reference adaptive control, augmented model reference adaptive control (aMRAC), and four attitude controllers, PI/feedback linearization (PIFL), augmented model reference adaptive control, backstepping, and adaptive backstepping (aBack). For the simulations, the omnicopter is commanded to point at and track a stationary aim point as it travels along a C0 continuous trajectory and a trajectory that is C1 continuous. The controllers are stressed by random disturbances and the addition of an unaccounted for suspended mass. The augmented model reference adaptive controller for position control paired with the adaptive backstepping controller for attitude control is shown to be the best controller combination for tracking various trajectories while subject to disturbances. Based on the simulation results, the PID/PIFL and aMRAC/aBack controllers are selected to be compared during three different flight tests. The first flight test is on a C1 continuous trajectory while the omnicopter is commanded to point at and track a stationary aim point. The second flight test is a hover with an unmodeled added weight, and the third is a circular trajectory with a broken blade. As with the simulation results, the adaptive controller is shown to yield better performance than the nonadaptive controller for all scenarios, particularly for position tracking. With an added weight or a broken propeller, the adaptive attitude controller struggles to return to level flight, but is capable of maintaining steady flight when the nonadaptive controller tends to fail. Finally, while model reference adaptive controllers are shown to be effective, their nonlinearity can make them difficult to tune and certify via standard certification methods, such as gain and phase margin. A method for using time delay margin estimates, a potential certification metric, to tune the adaptive parameter tuning gain matrix is shown to be useful when applied to an augmented MRAC controller for a quadrotor.



adaptive control, model reference adaptive control, adaptive backstepping control, UAV/UAS, omnicopter, 6DOF controllable multirotor, quadcopter, time delay margin estimation, control tuning, matrix measure, bounded linear stability analysis, Pixhaw