Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Inseok Hwang

Committee Chair

Inseok Hwang

Committee Member 1

Martin Corless

Committee Member 2

Dengfeng Sun


Unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) are gaining popularity in civil and commercial applications as their lightweight on-board computers become more powerful and affordable, their power storage devices improve, and the Federal Aviation Administration addresses the legal and safety concerns of integrating UASs in the national airspace. Consequently, many researchers are pursuing novel methods to control UASs in order to improve their capabilities, dependability, and safety assurance. The nonlinear control approach is a common choice as it offers several benefits for these highly nonlinear aerospace systems (e.g., the quadrotor). First, the controller design is physically intuitive and is derived from well known dynamic equations. Second, the final control law is valid in a larger region of operation, including far from the equilibrium states. And third, the procedure is largely methodical, requiring less expertise with gain tuning, which can be arduous for a novice engineer. ^ Considering these facts, this thesis proposes a nonlinear controller design method that combines the advantages of adaptive robust control (ARC) with the powerful design tools of linear matrix inequalities (LMI). The ARC-LMI controller is designed with a discontinuous projection-based adaptation law, and guarantees a prescribed transient and steady state tracking performance for uncertain systems in the presence of matched disturbances. The norm of the tracking error is bounded by a known function that depends on the controller design parameters in a known form. Furthermore, the LMI-based part of the controller ensures the stability of the system while overcoming polytopic uncertainties, and minimizes the control effort. This can reduce the number of parameters that require adaptation, and helps to avoid control input saturation. ^ These desirable characteristics make the ARC-LMI control algorithm well suited for the quadrotor UAS, which may have unknown parameters and may encounter external disturbances such as wind gusts and turbulence. This thesis develops the ARC-LMI attitude and position controllers for an X-configuration quadrotor helicopter. The inner-loop of the autopilot controls the attitude and altitude of the quadrotor, and the outer-loop controls its position in the earth-fixed coordinate frame. Furthermore, by intelligently generating a smooth trajectory from the given reference coordinates (waypoints), the transient performance is improved. The simulation results indicate that the ARC-LMI controller design is useful for a variety of quadrotor applications, including precise trajectory tracking, autonomous waypoint navigation in the presence of disturbances, and package delivery without loss of performance