Autonomous Maneuver Tracking for Self-Piloted Vehicles Academic Article uri icon


  • A fully autonomous flight vehicle must be capable of accurately tracking a desired trajectory for the safe and effective completion of a given mission. An approach to maneuver autopilot design is presented based on a six-degree-of-freedom nonlinear trimming algorithm coupled with a robust tracking controller. Acceleration commands required for closed-loop tracking of a desired trajectory in an Earth-fixed reference frame arc provided by a simple guidance strategy. The trimming algorithm generates optimal state commands and feedforward controls to accomplish the maneuver, while assuring that these commands can be tracked by an inner-loop controller without violating vehicle performance or actuator constraints. This approach is demonstrated in simulated flight of an actual fixed-wing uninhabited aerial vehicle, named Ariel. Excellent tracking performance is achieved for a representative three-dimensional trajectory using a high-fidelity aircraft model with nonlinear dynamics and realistic wind gust disturbances. In addition, an analysis of system robustness to uncertainty in the vehicle model is performed. © 1998 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved.

author list (cited authors)

  • Boyle, D. P., & Chamitoff, G. E.

citation count

  • 40

publication date

  • January 1999