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Precision Aerial Delivery with a Single Actuator and Indirect Adaptive control for Learn-to-Fly

  • October 16, 2017
  • 4:00 p.m.
  • 117A Surge Building
  • Dr. Travis Fields, Univ. Missouri at Kansas City 
  • Faculty Host: Dr. Craig Woolsey

Abstract: Current precision aerial delivery operations are often limited to very low parachute deployment altitudes or autonomously controlled ram-air parafoils. An alternative approach is presented in which a single actuator is required, thereby significantly reducing system costs compared to ram-air systems, enabling vertical descent trajectories (with respect to the wind column), and retaining some steering capabilities. The unique challenges associated with flight testing a decelerator system will be discussed in which initial outdoor testing and indoor wind tunnel testing are presented. Deployment techniques from manned and unmanned fixed wing aircraft as well as heavy-lift multirotor systems will be described. Initially results will be provided for control of the system heading followed by precision delivery simulations and experimental results.

The second component of the presentation will provide a brief introduction into the development of a system identification and flight control strategy capable of autonomously “learning” to fly with minimal human intervention. The indirect adaptive control strategy consists of a frequency-domain parameter estimation technique, intelligent persistent excitation signal, and Nonlinear Dynamic Inversion flight control. Results will be presented from physical flight-testing of a quadrotor unmanned aircraft under nominal, in-flight failure, and learning-based flight scenarios in order to quantify the performance of the flight control system. The control strategy has the potential to drastically reduce vehicle development cost and duration while also inherently providing some fault-tolerant flight control capabilities.

Bio: Dr. Travis Fields is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2008, 2009, and 2013, respectively. He currently sits on the AIAA Atmospheric Flight Mechanics technical committee and the AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems technical committee. His current research efforts are focused on: (1) development and evaluation of precision aerial delivery systems, (2) system identification coupled with indirect adaptive control strategies for learning-based flight control of unmanned aircraft, and the (3) UAV embedded diagnostics for counter-UAV operations. His research efforts have been funded by the Natick Soldier Research Development Engineering Center (NSRDEC), NASA, the Naval Postgraduate School, and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).