In the present era of aviation technology, autonomous navigation and control have emerged as a prime area of active research. Owing to the tremendous developments in the field, autonomous controls have led today’s engineers to claim that future of aerospace vehicle is unmanned. Development of guidance and navigation algorithms for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an extremely challenging task, which requires efforts to meet strict, and at times, conflicting goals of guidance and control. In this paper, aircraft altitude and heading controllers and an efficient algorithm for self-governing navigation using MATLAB® mapping toolbox is presented which also enables loitering of a fixed wing UAV over a specified area. For this purpose, a nonlinear mathematical model of a UAV is used. The nonlinear model is linearized around a stable trim point and decoupled for controller design. The linear controllers are tested on the nonlinear aircraft model and navigation algorithm is subsequently developed for for autonomous flight of the UAV. The results are presented for trajectory controllers and waypoint based navigation. Our investigation reveals that MATLAB® mapping toolbox can be exploited to successfully deliver an efficient algorithm for autonomous aerial navigation for a UAV.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have gained tremendous importance, in both Military and Civil, during first decade of this century. In a UAV, onboard computer (autopilot) autonomously controls the flight and navigation of the aircraft. Based on the aircraft role and flight envelope, basic to complex and sophisticated controllers are used to stabilize the aircraft flight parameters. These controllers constitute the autopilot system for UAVs. The autopilot systems, most commonly, provide lateral and longitudinal control through Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) controllers or Phase-lead or Lag Compensators. Various techniques are commonly used to ‘tune’ gains of these controllers. Some techniques used are, in-flight step-by-step tuning, software-in-loop or hardware-in-loop tuning methods. Subsequently, numerous in-flight tests are required to actually ‘fine-tune’ these gains. However, an optimization-based tuning of these PID controllers or compensators, as presented in this paper, can greatly minimize the requirement of in-flight ‘tuning’ and substantially reduce the risks and cost involved in flight-testing.
System identification of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), to acquire its mathematical model, is a significant step in the process of aircraft flight automation. The need for reliable mathematical model is an established requirement for autopilot design, flight simulator development, aircraft performance appraisal, analysis of aircraft modifications, preflight testing of prototype aircraft and investigation of fatigue life and stress distribution etc. This research is aimed at system identification of a fixed wing UAV by means of specifically designed flight experiment. The purposely designed flight maneuvers were performed on the UAV and aircraft states were recorded during these flights. Acquired data were preprocessed for noise filtering and bias removal followed by parameter estimation of longitudinal dynamics transfer functions using MATLAB system identification toolbox. Black box identification based transfer function models, in response to elevator and throttle inputs, were estimated using least square error technique. The identification results show a high confidence level and goodness of fit between the estimated model and actual aircraft response.