Army Research Office through a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG)
1 September 2001 – 31 August 2004
Cooperative and formation control of autonomous land, air, and underwater vehicles is an emerging technology area with a seemingly endless array of military and civil applications. In the case of air vehicles, autonomous formation control will provide enhanced tactical effectiveness and a large reduction in aerodynamic drag due to a change in the direction of the lift vector due to the upwash of the lead aircraft. This effect is similar to the familiar “drafting” in automotive racing. Aircraft formation flight control research in the Flight Simulation Laboratory at Texas A&M University is aimed at designing, testing, and evaluating robust, stable control algorithms to be used in both manned and unmanned aircraft formation control applications.
Our approach is to use a structural dynamics analogy for an unconstrained formation of generic vehicles in one or two dimensions. For individual vehicles, this framework consists of formulating the equations of motion with virtual dampers and springs, and then using feedback linearization to eliminate nonlinearities and drive errors asymptotically to zero. A virtual formation is used to control the trajectory of all vehicles within the formation, by specifying the desired trajectory of its center of mass.
Specific tasks and research objectives:
- Formulate the governing equations so that the least amount of data flow as possible is required between vehicles.
- Determine the requirements on accuracy for practical application to flight vehicles.
- Integrate the formation controller with the Fault Tolerant Structured Adaptive Model Inversion (SAMI) control methodology.
- Test and evaluate the control algorithms via non real-time and real time simulation.
- Investigate schemes for cooperative control of vehicles in formation.
Future phases of this project will encompass nonlinear control design methods, and integrate the Vision Based Navigation (VisNav) relative positioning system to provide accurate relative position measurements in real-time. Formation flight testing of the algorithms will be conducted at the Flight Test Facility of the Texas A&M Flight Mechanics Laboratory, using the Maxdrone research UAV.
Working with me on this program is Graduate Research Assistant:
- Edward R. Caicedo