Controlling a Quadrotor Carrying a Cable-Suspended Load to Pass Through a Window

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In this paper, we design an optimal control system for a quadrotor to carry a cable-suspended load flying through a window. As the window is narrower than the length of the cable, it is very challenging to design a practical control system to pass through it. Our solution includes a system identification component, a trajectory generation component, and a trajectory tracking control component. The exact dynamic model that usually derived from the first principles is assumed to be unavailable. Instead, a model identification approach is adopted, which relies on a simple but effective low order equivalent system (LOES) to describe the core dynamical characteristics of the system. After being excited by some specifically designed manoeuvres, the unknown parameters in the LOES are obtained by using a frequency based least square estimation algorithm. Based on the estimated LOES, a numerical optimization algorithm is then utilized for aggressive trajectory generation when relevant constraints are given. The generated trajectory can lead to the quadrotor and load system passing through a narrow window with a cascade PD trajectory tracking controller. Finally, a practical flight test based on an Astec Hummingbird quadrotor is demonstrated and the result validates the proposed approach.

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The authors would like to thank Yaser Alothman, Robin Dowling and Ian Dukes at the University of Essex for their technical support and M. P. Kelly from Cornell University for sharing his Matlab library of OptimTraj.

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Correspondence to Minhuan Guo.

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Guo, M., Gu, D., Zha, W. et al. Controlling a Quadrotor Carrying a Cable-Suspended Load to Pass Through a Window. J Intell Robot Syst (2019) doi:10.1007/s10846-019-01038-6

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  • Micro aerial vehicles
  • Model identification
  • Optimal control
  • Trajectory generation