Modeling and Adaptive Control Law Design for a Bi-Tiltrotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Chao Ma, Donglei Sun, Naira Hovakimyan

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents modeling and control law design for a bi-tiltrotor unmanned aerial vehicle for autonomous payload delivery. An ultralight bi-tiltrotor aerial vehicle was developed for a payload delivery contest using only two motors attached to a carbon fiber tube with an additional cube basket to carry the payload. To achieve desirable three-dimensional (3D) trajectory tracking performance with unknown payload, an adaptive control system has been developed, which consists of two components: (1) a baseline control law, including a lateral speed controller, forward speed controller, yaw angle controller, and altitude controller; and (2) an adaptive augmentation to all these four channels to compensate for modeling uncertainties and disturbances caused by the payload, which has large influence on system dynamics due to the light weight of the vehicle. A mathematical model of the vehicle has been built using the Newton-Euler method and simplified based on reasonable assumptions to facilitate control design. The baseline control law employs conventional proportional-derivative control structure. Subsequently, L1 adaptive control theory is adopted in the adaptive augmentation design. Simulation examples verify the efficacy of the proposed adaptive control solution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number040210900
JournalJournal of Aerospace Engineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Adaptive control
  • Flight control
  • Tiltrotor
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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