DESIGN OF AVIONICS AND CONTROLLERS FOR AUTONOMOUS TAKEOFF, HOVER AND LANDING OF A MINI-TANDEM HELICOPTER
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Robotics autonomy is an active research area these days and promises very useful applications. A lot of research has been carried out on Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) vehicles especially single rotor small scale helicopters. This thesis focuses on a small scale twin rotor helicopter. These helicopters are more useful because of their power efficiency, scalability, long range of center of gravity, shorter blades and most importantly their "all lift" feature. By "all lift" we mean that unlike single rotor helicopters where tail rotor's power is wasted just to cancel the torque of the main rotor both of its rotors are used for generating lift. This makes twin rotors ideal for lifting heavy weights.
This thesis considers avionics systems and the controllers development for a twin rotor. It involves electronic component selection and integration, software development, system identification and design of zero rate compensators. The compensators designed are responsible for autonomous take-off, hover and landing of this unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Both time and frequency domain system identification approaches were evaluated and a selection was made based on hardware limitations. A systematic approach is developed to demonstrate that a rapid prototyping UAV can be designed from cheap off-the-shelf components that are readily available and functionally compatible. At the end some modifications to existing mechanical structure are proposed for more robust outdoor hovering.