This chapter deals with the control system development and flight test for an unconventional flight vehicle, namely, a tandem ducted-fan experimental flying platform. The first-principle modeling approach combined with the frequency system identification has been adopted to obtain a high-fidelity dynamics model. It is inherently less stable and difficult to control. To accomplish the required practical flight tasks, the flying vehicle needs to work well even in windy conditions. Moreover, for flight control engineers, simple prescribed multi-loop controller structures are preferred. To handle the multiple problems, a structured velocity controller consisting of two feedback loops is developed, where inner loop provides stability augmentation and decoupling, and the outer loop guarantees desired velocity tracking performance. The simultaneous design of the two-loop controllers under multiple performance requirements in the usual H∞ metrics can be cast as a nonsmooth optimization program. To compensate for changes in plant dynamics across the flight envelope, a smooth and compact polynomial scheduling formula is implemented as a function of the forward flight speed. Both simulations and flight test results have been presented in this work to showcase the potential for the proposed robust nonlinear control system to optimize the performance of UAV, specifically unconventional vehicles.
Part of the book: Autonomous Vehicle