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Mitigating ground effect on mini quadcopters with model reference adaptive control


Mitigating ground effect becomes a big challenge for autonomous aerial vehicles when they are flying in close proximity to the ground. This paper aims to develop a precise model of ground effect on mini quadcopters, provide an advanced control algorithm to counter the model uncertainty and, as a result, improves the command tracking performance when the vehicle is in the ground effect region. The mathematical model of ground effect has been established through a series of experiments and validated by a flight test. The experiments show that the total thrust generated by rotors increases linearly as the vehicle gets closer to the ground, which is different from the commonly-used ground effect model for a single rotor vehicle. In addition, the model switches from a piecewise linear to a quadratic function when the rotor to rotor distance is increased. A control architecture that utilizes the model reference adaptive controller (MRAC) has also been designed, where MRAC is added to the altitude loop. The performance of the proposed control algorithm has been evaluated through a set of flight tests on a mini quadcopter platform and compared with a traditional proportional–integral–derivative (PID) controller. The results demonstrate that MRAC dramatically improves the tracking performance of altitude command and can reduce the rise time by 80 % under the ground effect.

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