Vertical Control of Unmanned Helicopter During Payload Drop
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Unmanned helicopters in recent years have gained much attention due to their potential in both civil as well as military applications. Helicopter is an inherently unstable system. As a result there is a growing need of developing a control structure that allows the helicopter to perform various applications while remaining stable throughout the flight. This thesis presents developments of a robust controller for the vertical channel of an unmanned helicopter while carrying and dropping a payload. In addition, a simulation platform is developed in Simulink that uses a nonlinear six degree of freedom helicopter model. Quantitative Feedback Theory, a frequency domain technique, is used to design a controller that meets specific performance criteria when uncertainties associated with different payload weights exist in the system. The controller performance is examined in simulation for an Xcell 60 helicopter for effective lifting and dropping of up to 10 lb payload. The performance is then compared with a traditional Proportional-Integral-Derivative controller. Further, the effect of actuator dynamics on the controller performance is also evaluated. Finally, a controller that is robust in minimizing the effect of actuator dynamics and the payload drop while keeping the helicopter stable in flight is designed.