Verifiable Adaptive Control Solutions for Flight Control Applications

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Virginia Tech

This dissertation addresses fundamental theoretical problems relevant to flight control for aerial vehicles and weapons in highly uncertain dynamical environment. The approach taken in this dissertation is the L1 adaptive control, which is elaborated from its design perspective for output feedback solution and is extended to time-varying reference systems to support augmentation of gain-scheduled baseline controllers. Compared to conventional adaptive controllers, L1 control has the following advantages: i) it has guaranteed uniformly bounded transient response for system's both signals, input and output; ii) it enables fast adaptation while maintains a bounded away from zero time-delay margin. The proposed adaptive control approach can recover the nominal performance of the flight control systems in the presence of rapid variation of uncertainties. Furthermore, the benefit of L1 adaptive control is its promise for development of theoretically justified tools for Verification and Validation (V&V) of adaptive systems.

Adaptive control for uncertain systems usually needs to handle two types of uncertainties: matched and unmatched uncertainties. Both of these two uncertainties will appear in practical flight control problems. In this dissertation, adaptive approaches which can compensate for these two types of uncertainties will be discussed respectively. Two architectures of L1 adaptive control, namely L1 state feedback adaptive control and L1 output feedback adaptive control, are studied. The state feedback adaptive control is applied for compensation of matched uncertainties. Although the state feedback scheme is capable of handling certain type of unmatched uncertainties, such approach is not explored in this dissertation. On the other hand, the output feedback approach is mainly aimed to solve problems in the presence of unmatched uncertainties.

The dissertation first discusses the state feedback L1 adaptive control for time-invariant reference systems. The adaptive controller is designed to augment an existing baseline controller. The closed loop system of the plant and the baseline controller is time-invariant. This closed loop system, which is a Linear Time Invariant (LTI) system, determines the dynamics of the reference system. The adaptive feedback can compensate for nonlinear state- and time-dependent uncertainty with uniformly bounded transient response. In this dissertation we discuss the Multi-Input Multi-Output (MIMO) extension of the method. Two flight control examples,Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) and Aerial Refueling Autopilot, are considered in the presence of nonlinear uncertainties and control surface failures. The L1 adaptive controller without any redesign leads to scaled response for system's both signals, input and output, dependent upon changes in the initial conditions, system parameters and uncertainties. The time-delay margin analysis for these two examples verifies the theoretical claims.

Next, the output feedback approach is studied. The adaptive output feedback controller can be applied to reference systems that do not verify the Strict Positive Real (SPR) condition for their input-output transfer function. In this dissertation, specific design guidelines are presented that render the approach suitable for practical applications. A missile autopilot design example is given to demonstrate the benefits of the design approach.

Finally, the L1 state feedback adaptive controller is extended to time-varying reference systems. The adaptive controller intends to augment a gain-scheduled baseline controller. The reference system, which is determined by the closed loop system of the plant and the baseline gain-scheduled controller, is time-varying. The adaptive controller with time-varying reference system is proved to have guaranteed performance bounds similar to those obtained for the case of linear time-invariant reference systems. With this result, the aerial refueling application can be extended to a complete scenario, which includes a racetrack maneuver for an aircraft.

The concluding chapter discusses the challenging issues for future research.

Flight Control, Nonlinear Systems, Time-varying Systems, Adaptive Control