Decentralized Autonomous Control for a String of Coopertative Helicopters

G. Yang and F. Fahimi (Canada)


Formation Control, Sliding Mode Control, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Trajectory Tracking Control, Autonomous Helicopter.


This paper presents a leader-follower control strategy for forming arbitrary formations between two helicopters. This decentralized control strategy can be used as a building block to control a string of multiple autonomous heli copters in arbitrary formations. The feasibility of the pre sented control strategy presented in this paper had been shown in a previous work in which the controller was de signed only based on a simple six-degree-of-freedom (6 DOF) rigid body model of the helicopter. In this paper, a more realistic model of the helicopter is used for con trol design, in which the helicopter rotors’ aerodynam ics and actuation mechanisms are incorporated in the slid ing mode controller design. Here, the rotor’s collective and cyclic pitch actuation commands are directly consid ered as the controller inputs. The decentralized controller, a building block for defining the formation of multiple helicopters, can successfully pilot an autonomous heli copter to follow another helicopter with any specified spa tial distance. The controller performs well in the presence of unknown bounded external disturbances, and is robust to norm-bounded dynamic model parameter uncertainties. Numerical examples are given to illustrate the effectiveness of the designed controller.

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