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D 19 avril 2022    

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Towards satisfying strict power requirements in solar energy high-altitude pseudo-satellite aircraft, there’s an increasing trend to optimize aerodynamic performance by increasing aspect ratio and to reduce weight by minimizing structure. Both solutions lead to increasingly flexible aircraft. Such potentially fragile systems call for protective control laws for managing load distribution during gusts and assure dynamic structural stability. The Halion Project intends to study such control laws.

This research task aims to study partially controllable systems (either by design or due to failure yielding degraded mode operation). A great example of such a problem is the automatic landing of non-throttleable rockets. While underactuated and not controllable, previous research in our group showed that landing is still possible in degraded mode at the expense of not choosing a precise touchdown location. Since partial controllability and the presence of strong non-linearities preclude linear control theory, the Fusion Project pursues Nonlinear Model Predictive Control (NMPC) as a solution.

This study sets out to establish tractable models for tail-sitting vehicles in view of control design and qualitative dynamics analysis. Our proposed framework not only yields numerically advantageous models but also extends our comprehension of tail-sitting vehicles. The proposed models are globally non-singular, polynomial-like and bypass the use of aerodynamic angles of attack and sideslip (both free-stream and propwash-induced !). Nevertheless, even if mathematically elegant, a mathematical model has practical use only if consistent with reality. This work shows this is the case by means of wind tunnel data and flight experiments.

Controllers and Observers are two sides of the same coin. The Pilion Project delivers tailormade embedded system design for the above real-time tasks with artisan-like love and care.