Explicit non-linear model predictive control for autonomous helicopters

2012-12-12T14:52:35Z (GMT) by Cunjia Liu Wen-Hua Chen J.D. Andrews
Trajectory tracking is a basic function required for autonomous helicopters, but it also poses challenges to control design due to the complexity of helicopter dynamics. This article introduces an explicit model predictive control (MPC) to solve this problem, which inherits the advantages of non-linear MPC but eliminates time-consuming online optimization. The explicit solution to the non-linear MPC problem is derived using Taylor expansion and exploiting the helicopter model. With the explicit MPC solution, the control signals can be calculated instantaneously to respond to the fast dynamics of helicopters and suppress disturbances immediately. On the other hand, the online optimization process can be removed from the MPC framework, which can accelerate the software development and simplify onboard hardware. Due to these advantages of the proposed method, the overall control framework has a low complexity and high reliability, and it is easy to deploy on small-scale helicopters. The proposed explicit non-linear MPC has been successfully validated in simulations and in actual flight tests using a Trex-250 small-scale helicopter.