Autonomous aerial refueling utilizing a vision based navigation system Conference Paper uri icon


  • Autonomous in flight aerial refueling is an important capability for the future employment of unmanned aerial vehicles. A reliable and accurate sensor capable of providing accurate relative position measurements, together with a robust controller, are key to such a capability. This paper develops a robust controller designed for integration with an existing vision based sensor and relative position navigation system. The structure of the controller produces low control rates, and a stochastic state estimator is developed to filter exogenous disturbances and sensor noise. An unmanned aerial vehicle model based on the AV-8B Harrier is used for controller design and simulation, and feasibility of the total system is demonstrated by simulated docking maneuvers to a stationary drogue in turbulence. Results show that the total system provides a precise aerial refueling capability, with good disturbance rejection characteristics. © 2002 by the author(s). Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission.

author list (cited authors)

  • Kimmett, J., Valasek, J., & Junkins, J. L.

publication date

  • January 2002