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Design, Modeling and Control for a Tilt-rotor VTOL UAV in the Presence of Actuator Failure

by   Mohammadreza Mousaei, et al.
Carnegie Mellon University

Providing both the vertical take-off and landing capabilities and the ability to fly long distances to aircraft opens the door to a wide range of new real-world aircraft applications while improving many existing applications. Tiltrotor vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a better choice than fixed-wing and multirotor aircraft for such applications. Prior work on these aircraft has addressed the aerodynamic performance, design, modeling, and control. However, a less explored area is the study of their potential fault tolerance due to their inherent redundancy, which allows them to sustain some degree of actuator failure. This work introduces tolerance to several types of actuator failures in a tiltrotor VTOL aircraft. We discuss the design and model of a custom tiltrotor VTOL UAV, which is a combination of a fixed-wing aircraft and a quadrotor with tilting rotors, where the four propellers can be rotated individually. Then, we analyze the feasible wrench space the vehicle can generate and design the dynamic control allocation so that the system can adapt to actuator failure, benefiting from the configuration redundancy. The proposed approach is lightweight and is implemented as an extension to an already existing flight control stack. Extensive experiments are performed to validate that the system can maintain the controlled flight under different actuator failures. To the best of our knowledge, this work is the first study of the tiltrotor VTOL's fault-tolerance that exploits the configuration redundancy.


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