Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems

, Volume 65, Issue 1–4, pp 417–435 | Cite as

Design and Analysis of a Gyroscopically Controlled Micro Air Vehicle

  • Chris E. ThorneEmail author
  • Mark Yim


Micro air vehicles have emerged as a popular option for diverse robotic and teleoperated applications in both open terrain and urban environments because of their inherent stealth and portability. To perform many of the tasks envisioned for micro air vehicles, agility is essential. To date, research efforts to improve agility have focused primarily on constructing complex controllers to enable existing vertical-take-off- and-landing vehicles, such as remote-controlled helicopters and quadrotors, to perform aerobatic maneuvers autonomously. In this work, we adopt a system-level perspective and analyze a new design for a rotary-wing micro air vehicle that utilizes gyroscopic dynamics for attitude control. Unlike traditional vehicles where attitude control moments are generated by aerodynamic control surfaces, the proposed vehicle will leverage the existing angular momentum of its counter rotating components. This paradigm has the potential to yield significant increases in agility when compared to state-of-the-art micro vertical take-off and landing vehicles. The proposed design reduces mechanical complexity by precluding the use of complex mechanisms, such as the swashplate. The capacity to rapidly generate large gyroscopic control moments, coupled with the precision gained from eliminating the need for complex and restrictive aerodynamic models, improves both agility and adaptability. We present the development of a gyroscopically controlled micro air vehicle including comprehensive models of the dynamics and the aerodynamics with an emphasis on the design and analysis of such systems. A dynamics simulator that incorporates these models and mechanical hardware solutions to challenges that arose during prototyping will also be presented.


Micro air vehicle Gyroscopic control Vertical take-off and landing Control moment gyroscope 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Gress, G.R.: Using dual propellers as gyroscopes for tilt-prop hover control. In: Proc. AIAA Biennial Int. Powered Lift Conf. Exhibit. Williamsburg, VA (2002)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Johnson, W: Helicopter Theory. Dover Publications (1980)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kendoul, F., Fantoni, I., Lozano, R.: Modeling and control of a small autonomous aircraft having two tilting rotors. In: 44th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, 2005 and 2005 European Control Conference. CDC-ECC’05, pp. 8144–8149 (2005)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Leishman, J.G.: Principles of Helicopter Aerodynamics. Cambridge University Press (2006)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Lim, K.B., Moerder, D.D.: CMG-augmented control of a hovering VTOL platform. In: AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference and Exhibit. Hilton Head, SC (2007)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Lim, K.B., Shin, J.Y., Moerder, D.D.: Variable speed CMG control of a dual-spin stabilized unconventional VTOL air vehicle. In: AIAA 3rd Unmanned Unlimited Technical Conference, Workshop and Exhibit, pp. 20–23. Citeseer, Chicago, IL (2004)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Okamoto, M., Yasuda, K., Azuma, A.: Aerodynamic characteristics of the wings and body of a dragonfly. J. Exp. Biol. 199(2), 281 (1996)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Prouty, R.W.: Helicopter Performance, Stability, and Control. RE Krieger Pub. Co. (1990)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Samuel, P., Sirohi, J., Bohorquez, F., Couch, R., Center, A.G.R.: Design and testing of a rotary wing MAV with an active structure for stability and control. In: Annual Forum Proceedings-American Helicopter Society, vol. 61, pp. 1946. American Helicopter Society (2005)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Schaub, H., Vadali, S.R., Junkins, J.L.: Feedback control law for variable speed control moment gyros. J. Astronaut. Sci. 46(3), 307–328 (1998)MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Tewari, A.: Atmospheric and Space Flight Dynamics: Modeling and Simulation with MATLAB and Simulink. Springer (2007)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Thorne, C., Yim, M.: Towards the development of gyroscopically controlled micro air vehicles. In: International Conference on Robotics and Automation (2011)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics DepartmentUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations