Quadrotor helicopters are drawing considerable attention both for their mobility and their potential to perform multiple tasks in complete autonomy. Moreover, the numerous limitations characterizing these aircraft, such as their underactuation, make quadrotors ideal testbeds for innovative theoretical approaches to the problem of controlling autonomous mechanical systems. In this chapter, we propose a robust model reference adaptive control architecture and design an autopilot for quadrotors, which guarantees satisfactory output tracking despite uncertainties in the vehicle’s mass, matrix of inertia, and location of the center of mass. The feasibility of our results is supported by a detailed analysis of the quadrotor’s equations of motion. Specifically, considering the vehicle’s equations of motion as a time-varying nonlinear dynamical system and avoiding the common assumption that the vehicle’s Euler angles are small at all times, we prove that the proposed autopilot guarantees satisfactory output tracking and verifies sufficient conditions for a weak form of controllability of the closed-loop system known as strong accessibility. A numerical example illustrates the applicability of the theoretical results presented and clearly shows how the proposed autopilot outperforms in strong wind conditions autopilots designed using a commonly employed proportional-derivative control law and a conventional model reference adaptive control law.
Part of the book: Adaptive Robust Control Systems