Truly Force-based Control of a UAV

Type of position: 
Master thesis
Short abstract: 
Current solutions for aerial physical interaction still lack the required precision and robustness required in real applications. This project goes beyond state-of-the art control methods with the use of integrated force sensing at the rotors.

One of the main limitations of aerial vehicles given by the imprecision of the actuators. It is well known that the thrust produced by a propeller depends on the spinning velocity of the motor and some aerodynamic coefficients depending on the propeller and other environmental factors. To have a more precise control of at least the spinning rate of the motor, a closed-loop Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) should be integrated and tested. However, this solves the problem only partially: aerodynamic uncertainty and disturbances will make the generated thrust uncertain as well. A novel solution is to install a force/torque sensor between the motor and the main frame of the vehicle. This sensor has the potential to precisely measure the thrust produced by the motor. In a previous project, we managed to have a first single propeller unit controlled in thrust. In this project we would like to go further integrating this solution on a real multi-rotors (quadrotor and hexacopter), now truly force-based controlled. This will require the design and development of a quadrotor integrating such new actuation units and modify the current control and signal processing architecture to have a first truly force-based controlled UAV. Further iterations of tuning & testing will be required to improve performance.

Work Packages: 
  • Familiarization with previous work
  • Mechanical & electrical design and manufacturing of a quadrotor integrating the thrust-controlled propeller units
  • Evaluation of the thrust measurements and design of opportune filters
  • Evaluation of hovering in nominal and simplified conditions
  • Iterations of tuning & testing to improve performance
  • Evaluate of flight under unknown disturbances
  • High motivation and interest in the topic
  • Methodological and goal-oriented working behavior
  • Experience with embedded systems and CAD
  • Strong background in control
  • Experience programming in c++, knowledge of ROS
Contact Details: 

Application via SiROP portal with the following documents: motivation statement, and a copy of your CV and transcript.

Supervisors : 
Dr. Marco Tognon
Michael Pantic
Max Brunner