Modeling and Control of an Active Dihedral Fixed-Wing Unmanned Aircraft

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Virginia Tech

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) often encounter turbulent fields that perturb the aircraft from its desired target trajectory, or in a manner that increases the load factor. The aircraft's fixed dihedral angle, providing passive roll-stiffness, is often selected based on lateral-directional stability requirements for the vehicle. A study to predict the effect of an active dihedral system on lateral-directional stability and vertical gust rejection capability was conducted to assess the performance and feasibility of the system. Traditionally, the dihedral location begins at the root to maintain wing structural requirements, however, the active dihedral system was also evaluated for dynamic stability and gust rejection performance at alternative dihedral breakpoint locations. Simulations were completed using linear parameter-varying (LPV) models, derived from traditional Newtonian aircraft dynamics and associated kinematic equations, to improve the modeling of the nonlinear active dihedral system. The stability of the LPV system was evaluated using Lyapunov stability theory applied to switched linear systems, assessing bounds of operation for the dihedral angle and flapping rate. An ideal feedback controller was developed using a linear–quadratic regulator (LQR) for both a discrete gust model and a continuous gust model, and a gain scheduled LQR controller was implemented to show the benefits of gain scheduling with a parameter varying state and input model. Finally, a cost analysis was conducted to investigate the real-world benefit of altering the dihedral breakpoint location. The effects of the active dihedral system on battery capacity and consumption efficiency were observed and compared with the gust rejection authority.

Active Dihedral, Gust Rejection, Unmanned Aircraft System, Linear Parameter-Varying, Gain Scheduling