Autonomous Robots

, Volume 29, Issue 3–4, pp 381–399 | Cite as

A terrain-following control approach for a VTOL Unmanned Aerial Vehicle using average optical flow

  • Bruno HérisséEmail author
  • Tarek Hamel
  • Robert Mahony
  • François-Xavier Russotto


This paper presents a nonlinear controller for terrain following of a vertical take-off and landing vehicle (VTOL). The VTOL vehicle is assumed to be a rigid body, equipped with a minimum sensor suite (camera, IMU and barometric altimeter) maneuvering over a textured rough terrain made of a concatenation of planar surfaces. Assuming that the forward velocity is separately regulated to a desired value, the proposed control approach ensures terrain following and guarantees that the vehicle does not collide with the ground during the task. The proposed control acquires an optical flow from multiple spatially separate observation points, typically obtained via multiple cameras or non collinear directions in a unique camera. The proposed control algorithm has been tested extensively in simulation and then implemented on a quadrotor UAV to demonstrate the performance of the closed-loop system.


Optical flow Terrain following Obstacle avoidance Nonlinear control Aerial robotic vehicle 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruno Hérissé
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tarek Hamel
    • 2
  • Robert Mahony
    • 3
  • François-Xavier Russotto
    • 1
  1. 1.CEA, LIST, Interactive Robotics LaboratoryFontenay aux RosesFrance
  2. 2.I3S, UNSA-CNRSSophia Antipolis CedexFrance
  3. 3.Department of EngineeringThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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