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Automatic airship control involving backstepping techniques

Emmanuel Hygounenc and Philippe Sou&res

7, AV. du Colonel Roche 31077 TOULOUSE Cedex 4 Rance ehygoune,soueresQlaas.fr
Abshnct- Thia paper deab with autonomow drship control in caw o very low perturbations. A f flight decompmitlon allowing to deflne canonical navigation phases from W I T to landing i p m s posed. For each phese a reduced model la determined and a cantroller is designed on the base of backstep ping techniques. This approach allows t o consider the kinematic and dynamic requirement separately. Due t o the decoupliog properties, an equilibrium f n state la reached at the end o e & flight phase, allowing to model easily the transition between them. f Slmulations o the differant controllera are plgaented for a -lMlc model of blimp including, aemstetic, dynamic and aerodynamic &ecta. KeyruonLtalrship modellag, backstepping control, mobile robotics.


Two years ago,the LAAS-CNRS has initiated the development of a small size autonomous airship. This a e tion comes 88 a part ofour field robotics project devoted to exploration in natural enviromnenta. The ultimate objective is to define a performant autonomous hetemgeneous system by gathering the local information prvided hy rover robots navigating on the ground, with aerial data wming from the blimp. Advanced project8 devated to unmanned autonomow blimps have already provided interesting achievements in several places. The Aurora Brazilian project from Campinas Information Technology Institute, has given rise to efficient blimp's navigation strategies, some of them involving differential GPS data [I] [3]. Interesting projects of solar powered airship are under develop ment at the university of Stuttgart in Germany (Lotte project) [4] [?I, and in Virginia (Aztec project) 1 1 More 6. recently, a project of autonomousblimp navigation has started at the CEMIF Laboratory of the university of Eny, Rance. Their first results concern the system modelling and the traj&ory planning problem 121. Our experimental platform is an Airspeed Airship AS 500 prototype whose hull is made of welded mylar. The m i actuator is a vectored electric thruster located unan der the gondola. Four taiUins, equiped with mobile control surfaces,are located at the reat in x conliguration. An additional lateral stern propeller allows to wntrol the yaw angle, at tow sped,wben the wntrol surfaces are ineffective. To measure the state variables of the system, the blimp is equipped with a differential GPS receiver, a fluxgate compass, a wind sensor, a gyrarcape and cameras. The on-board CPU is a Matrax Bight board.

T i paper provides a first complete solution to the hs control problem in m e of very low perturbations. A flight demmposition allowing to define canonical navips, tion phases from takeoff to landing is proposed. For each phase a reduced model is determined and a controller is designed on the base of backstepping techniques. This apprcach allows to consider the kinematic and dynamic requirement separately. The propxed strategy allows to l n the global navigation task to the regulation pmhik lem. Though the trajectory planning problem is not considered here, the definition of the successive flight phases offers a solid base for this study. Furthermore, due to the dewupling properties, an equilibrium state is reached at the end of each flight phaae, allowing to model easily the transition between them. The paper is organized as follows: the model is p r e aentgt in section 11-A, then a discussion on aerodynamic The control stratstability is proposed in section 11-B. egy is described in section 3 in which the successive flight phases are described. FinaUy simulations of the diEerent controllers are presented in section IV.

A . The model

G q


Fig. 1. The different frame

Thre frames are introducsd to model the airship's dynamics (see figure 1): R, is a global frame bed to theearth, while R(C, Y, and R.(C, X., Y Z are X, 2) . . , ) two local frames attached to the airship whose origin is at the center of wlume C. The reason why C haa been chosen as the origin o these local frames is because it f is rigidly k d to the airship (its position does not dee pend on the distribution of mass, as for G) and it is located on the hull axis of revolution (allowing to get a simple expression of the inertia matrix). R is called the

0 2002 IEEE SMC


* --$
............ ............


............. ............

. _ A . .

.,.,.. .... ........ ......


-Fig. 3. Pit& stability

Fig. 2. Yawing stability

body Iked frame, and R, the aeronautic kame. The X axis of R, is directed along the airship velocity V,. . a is the angle of attack within the XZ plane, while p is the skid angle within in the XY plane. To describe the position and orientation of the airship with respect to Ro, the nonclsssical Eulerian parametrization is used: the three orientation angles are: the roll the pitch 8 and the yaw The current configuration is then deduced from three elementary rotations (see 11. 5) We use the following notations: r) = [r)T,hTIT represents the contiguration o R with respect to Ro, with f vi = [ZO,MI.EO]~ rh = [+,e,+]T. U = [$,$IT and describes the velocity screw e x p d in the local frame R, where VI = [U,., wIT and VJ = b,q,rIT. The an& lytic expressions of forces and torques acting on the airship can be deduced from the application o Newtans f lawn of mechaniw and from aerodynamics. The airship is considered an a solid and the aeroelastic eegts c m neglected. Followingthe analysis described in 151, the model can be represented by two equations. The first one models the system dynamiw with respect to R, the second one represents the kinematic relation betareen frames R and



E. Aemdymmic stability Due to the decoupling property, lateral and longitudinal aerodynamic effects can he considered separately. Consider first a motion in the lateral plane. During a turn, the blimp is subject to centrifugal forces which are due to both its maw and the added mass of air, and normal aerodynamic forces i n d u d by the hull and the taiffins and which depend on the velacity V and on the angle p (see figure 2) 1 1 The rudders mainly 9. induce a moment of rotation, the translation effect due to this force can be neglected. The Wn forces due to ig the hull and the t a i f f i ~ induce two opposite moments. For the airship yaw motion to be stable, the centrifugal forcesmust be compensated and the drift angle must remain small. To this end, the following two equations of stability must he satisfied:
hull d y n . moment
~md-isnormdfarra+esntrifug~ffones=O tailfiru aemdyn. moments = 0

Now,consider the longitudinalmotion. The controlsurface d as elevators induce a pitch moment. Due to inertia, the airship can execute low nwature trajectories only (see figure 3). The different acting forces are: the thrust, the drag, the lifting forces induced by the hull and the horizontal tailfins, the weight and the buoyancy. As for the lateral motion, the translation effect induced by the elevators can be neglected. hthermore, 85 the curvature of the trajectory is small, and the velocity reduced, the centrifugal forces can also be neglected. Depending on the position of the center of gravity, the weight induces a moment which is related to the pitch angle 8. The liftimg aerodynamic forces induce two opposite moments which depend on the blimp velocity and the incidence angle a. Finally, the thrust induces a moment. For the pitch motion to he stable, the moment induced by the thruster must be balanced by the moment of weight, and the angle of incidence a must remain small. The following three equations of stability must he satisfied:
drag force thruster form = 0 weight force + buoyancy force aerodynamic fa- = 0 + thruster moment + tailfilv -dynamic =i$t ments hull aerodynamic moment = 0

M i . + T d v ) + T ( u ) + T . ( r ) ) =Tp



M is the matrix o inertia due to both the m a s o the f f expressed airship and the added m a s of air at point C, in R. It can be written:

( mS(d)




m is themapsot the airship, d = s , and S(d) is the skew symmetric matrix associated with d. U is the acceleration screw, Td(u) is the dynamic wrench of Coriolis and centrifugal forces and moments, which are due to themavlofthehlimpandtheaddedmassofair. T.(v)is the aerodynamic wrench, T.(r))is the aeratatic wrench (gravity and buoyancy)expressed in R. T. is the wrench of forces and moments induced by the vectored thruster, J(v) is the the s t a n thruster and the mobile surf-. transition matrix from R to Ro.



A. Flight decomposition

In the field of aeronautics, plane Eight control often involves lateral and longitudinal state decoupling. This

Considering the decoupling property and the nature o actuators, the following five flight phases have to f be considered: takeoff, longitudinal transition phase, steady lateral navigation, steady longitudinal navigation, landing. A diagram representing the different Right phases and the pca9ible transitions between them is r e p resented in figure (5). The control strategy allowing to perform the differentphases is based on three nominal control lam. Fig. 4. Airship equilibrium $light

stratea naturally applies to the airship as the state dynamics involved in longitudinal and lateral motions appears to be very W y dependent. Following this consideration, we propose to split the twelve state variables into two subgystem : 7 1= [~ o , z ~ , S l T and vlong = [u.w,qIT to describe z O the dynamics within the longitudinal plene. VI,,^ = [yo,+,!blT and v . = [w,p,rlT to desaibe the 1t dynamics within the lateral plane. Mhermore, when the airship has reached a rmising speed, the model can he l n a i e [ I . Let V = ierzd S and 0, denote reapeaively the speed and pitch angle at the equilibrium (see figure 4). Taking benefit from these properties, our navigation stratea will consist of a separate longitudinal and lateral mntrol. Different Eiiht phases are delined. To introduce this deaompasition, it is neFe98aTy to better describe the actuatom.

Fig. 5.

The Aight control strategy

E. Longihrdindmhl
Four E i i t phases are to be done within the longitudinal plane: takeoff, transient longitudinal flight, steady

A.0.a The vfftored thruster. consists of two umrdinated propellers hed on a rotative axis. It produces a force, within the longitudinal plane, whose n o m and direetion are adjustable. This actuator will be used as a upwards lift during the takeoff phase, and as an horizontl thnuiter during the steady flight. It is then necessary a to consider a transitory phase, within the longitudinal plane, during which the vectored thrust duection is continuously updated. To split the vectored thrust into vertical and horizontal forces, and define the resulting moment, the followingchange of variables is introduced:

Fx,, = F,,, cos p et F,, = F sin p z. ,

where F, is the thrust force. and p = arctan angle of propulsion with resped to the the

A.0.b Four control surfaces. are located on the tailfn' E c pair of diagonally opposed control mu-faces is is. a h simultaneously actuated. The resulting force inaeases lineary with the deflection angle with respect the velocity vector, while it is proportionnal to the square of the velocity They give rise to a rotative moment within the longitudinal or the lateral plane. As the proposed strategy is to use the natural decoupling property, the other possible combinations of control surfaces, that would result in a simultaneous action in both planes, are not considered.
'The taiffimare fued in x configuration to maximize the mn-

longitudinal f l i t , and landing. The ssme trajectory t r a d r i strategy is used to perform the three flight phThere ace several ways to perform the takeoff. A first approach is to stabilize the altitude only, by p i t i o n ning the vectored thrust vertically. However, this strategy can lead to singularitis For this reason it appears necessazy to induce 84 the same time a docity along the X a i . takeoff can then be delined as a trajectory - x s The tracking and be viewed as a part of the transient longitudinal pbase. The control Objective of the transient phase is to drive the robot up to a reference altitude, cruise velocity and constant pitch angle 8.. During this phsse, the airship remains close to its steady state to perform a longitudinal trajectory tracking. The control objective of landing is to reduce progres4ively the altitude and velocity until the blimp approaches the flwr. The local expression of the dynamicalmodel (1)is considered. For sake of simplicity the state parameters ulmp and qion0 introduced at the beginning of section 111-A will he respeaivelydenotedhyv= [zo,yo,SJTandrl= [%.w,qlT. Dynamic model:
A x i d %rea: m.li+ma.( = -m.uq+fpc.Vzv3 -(Fc-Fe)sinB+F, cmp Normal T o: m& mo.4 = +m.uq $pC.V2v% ( P o Fe)cmB F, sin P fd. Moment of pitch: ~ " + mo.li 4 ma.w = --=nq mo,urq $pc,V% gFosinB &FD cosef F,O. cmp - F,O,ainp &. d

tml effect.

Kinematic model:
i = -#U o

where %, m,, m are the mass parameters, Jv is a parameter of inertia, p is the density of air, C C,, , . , C are the aerodynamic coefficients, V is the relative airship velocity, v is the volume of the hull, ) . a , . ( and (O,,O,) determine respectively the position of C and the vector+ thruster, yith respect to R in the longitudinal plane, f a , & and M , . d c are the force and moment induced by elevators, 6 is the elmtor angle (see [5]). . The p r o d trajectory tracldng strategy is based on backstepping teehniques (see[Ill). Let qd represent the expected airship position and el = q - qd the position error. To perform the tracking, an edditionnal wk.hle e t , that will behave as a sliding variable, is introduced.

+ sinew

Fig.6. ltajajptary tracking

On the other hand. Tp is directly related to the input, namely the elevator angle and the horizontal and vertic! a cnmponents of the thrust, by the relation: Tp = BU, where:


T h e n , e Z = i - i d + k l =l)-h,whme&=@d-Xel. In the sequel, ez is considered as a velocity error, and i. as a virtual velocity. Ftom the relation h = J(q)v. and i d = J(q)ud, the virtual veloaty can be expressed with m e t to the local frame R: pc
. U

= Ud - J-'(q)Xe1

Following the bdstepping &me, wbi& consists of

A necesary and sufficient condition for the matrix B to be invertible is that the blimp's velocity be nonzero. As the virtual blimp's Velocity has to be nonzero for the system to be controllable, this condition is naturally verS d BS 8wn as the tracking phase is started The input e can therefore be directly deduced from:U = B-IT,.

two emebbed control loop (see figwe 6), v, can be viewed as a kinematic controller. Considaing the pasitive function SI = #lell12. whose time d&mtiw verifies 3 = $6, = -eTAel + $ e t , it appern thatz once 1 ea = 0, the position error el converges SsymptOticaUy to zero. The next step is then to determine the dynamic controlly whicb allows to st,&ilize et to zero. Intrcducing e, = J - l ( q ) e l , and ea = J - l ( v ) e t = U - v., with

C. L.utedmntml T i navigation phase is used to control the airship's hs

lateral motion after a longitudinal f l i t . The blimp's altitude, pitch angle and velocity are then suppmed to be initially stabilieed to a reference steady value. Due to t h e e equilibriumconditions the system dynamicscan be linearized (see figure 4). Denoting by q = [m, O,+lT and v = [u1p,rlT(instead of q1.t and utDtas in the b.s ginning of section IILA), and usingthe decoupledstrueture, we get the following expressjon of the the linearized model: Dynamic model:
L a t r d lift :
m,W.p-m.U*.r+F,.+h.v+~,~p+ k,r+(Fc-F8)QrnrrB.+fr-16, Roll moment : +# J.,i ma." = -mo.W.p mo.U.r ML. h h , a ML,P+ Mr.r o.FcQ-9. Yaw moment; J.i J..g+mo.+ = ma.W.p -mo.U.r+ M N ~ &.v+ M N ~ PM N ~ V a.FcQcm 8. MN-&

> 0. the controller is defined by:

T p = T d ( U ) + T . ( Y ) + T ~ ( v ) + M 4 - - X ~ e ; (3)

The closed-Imp stability is deduced from the decrease of the following Lyapunov function:
St = 1 -dTM& 2

where M is the inertia matrix at C with respect to frame R. Using (l),the timederivative of SZ expresses:

asymptotically to zero. Introducing a = C - M-'Aaez , the trmsition input between the kinematic and the dynamic loop (see Sgure 6), the controller (3)expresses: T,=Td(U)+T.(U)+T.(l)+MO
'this condition occurs once ir = b or

=&=Mi; = . & T [ ~ p - T d ( ~ ) - T . ( ~ ) - T T , ( ~ ) - M i ; ] . Kinematic model : Replacing Tp by its closed-loop expreshion $3),we get: c = uscoae. sin + "-0 Q=P Sa = -eTXzea 5 0. This shows that ea converges
where J., J, and J., are inert+ parametera, FY. ... are lir+d e&ession of aercdynamic forces and moment, fy46.,

Fy.v ..., MLe + ML.V .._, MN=+ A4p.w

= vu

5At the end of the takeoff ph-, if the b l i p is at rest it i ne. to slightly initiate the translational motion befors switching on the longitudinal control.

M, N& are the aerodynamic force and moment in, duced by the mobile surfaces, 6 is the deRection angle. Remark I : For this linear model, the aerodynamic stability conditionsstated in f 11-Bexpresses ,
F Y = MI,. = M,vI = 0 ~ To consider separately the kinematic and the dynamic regulation, the lateral motion is based on a backstepping control scheme as before. However, as the control o b jective is now to regulate the lateral position and orientation, a path-following appears more appropriate than a trajectnry tracking. As it is classidy done in mobile

- 3

Fig. 8. Bloc d i w a of the path [allawing mntml

equation, it appears that converges asymptotically to zero. By using additional bundness argumenta and Barbalat's lemma the convergence of L to zero can be proven as well (see [12]). Let i = r - r. denote the angular velocity error. Considering the three equations given by the d p a m ical model, together with the kinematic equation = p we obtain the e x p r k o n of the lateral dynamic linear system under the form M-X = AX + BU, where X = [v.p,r,+IT. The scalar input U reprthe deflecting rudder's angle 6 The output equation is , . r = CX, with C =.[O, 0,1,0]. The following controller is considered:

Fig. 7. Backstepping path bllaaring mdml

U = (cM-~B)-~[-cM'-~Ax +i.
Consider the Lyapunw function

-I ~ F ]

robotics, the path following consists in regulating the Lateral distawx and the orientation error with to a mobile kenet frame whose orientation is defined by projecting perpendicularly the point C on the path (figure 7). Howsver, the fundamental difference ivith wheeled robots is that the frame to be stabilized on the Ftenet frame is the aeronautic bame %instead of ICd frame R. The n of this difference is that the blimp is not constraint t o mow tangentidy to ita main axiS contrary to nonholonanic robots. Indeed, due to the possible lateral skid, the blimps' velocity is directed .as dong the % - d which differs from the local z-axisby the angle P. L he the lateral distance between C and the path, and the angular error between the blimp's velocity V and the mobile frame Xd-axis whose orientation is g v n by +d. The m r dynamics reduces to: ie o

whose timderivative veriJies: Sz = F&. Derivating the cmtput equation we get:

i CX = C ' ' X = M-A+


in whicb CM'-'B is a scalar. Then & = i l i - i = . ] i[CM'-'AX CM'-'BU - ] = -&ia 5 0. As this . i derivative only vanishes for i = 0, this p r m that the 'angular velocity is avymptotically stabilized. The bloc diagram of the System is represented in figure 8, a transitory input a = ic- K i i has heen introduced to this end.

+ = r.
rcis the


is the lateral skid angle, and where d = $+B- $d, control variable. To stabilize this system we nse the controller proposed in 1121: .

r. = -KILV,



4 - KaV+


The stability of the closed-loop system is shown by considering the following positive function:

= whose + d e r i v a t i v e verifi~:SI = KILL KlLVsinrl, + = -KaV+a 0. Rom this kst



+ $4

IV. SIMULATIONS A simulation of the two fimt phases o a flight is prcf posed, namely the transient longitudinal tracking and the lateral path following. Simulations have been done using Matlab/Silink coupled with a 3D visualizing t w l developed at LAAS/CNRS. The first simulation represents a longitudinal transition phase. Following the takeoff, the airship is supposed to have an altitude of 10 meters, and the residual v e h i t y of 0.1 m/s. The control objective is to drive the blimp down to the altitude of 9 meters and reach a steady velocity of 10 m/s. The blimp has to follow rectilinear horizontal trajectory. The motion is represented in figure 9. The convergence ofvelocity errors are r e p e n t e d by figure 1 . The sec0 ond simulation reprerwrts a line following. The blimp's initial altitude is 9m and its cruising speed is 10m/s.

Fig. 9. Longitudinal tracking: 3D visualization Fig. 12. Line following in the ( X , Y ) p h e

Fig. 10. lkaddng velocity e m r

The initial lateral distancx to the path is 1Cm while ita 1 orientation error is 45 d q . Figures 1 and 12 rep resent the blimp's trajectory.


U i g the natural demupling property, it has been sn possible to decompose the K i t in different phases. For each phase, a eontrol law has been proposed dowing to drive the system to a steady state. Thanks to this stability condition, the transition between phases can he done wily. Though the trajectory planning problem has not been considered in this paper, the definition the suceepsive flight pboffersa base for this study. In order to consider the perturbation of wind, the next step will be to include the relative velocities in the model.
[I] J . R Aainheira. E. de Pain* J. Ram-, S.S.Bueno. M. Bergerman, and S.B.V. Gomn. "Extended Dynamic Model for Au-

mra Robotic Airship", 14th AIAA Lighter-Than-Air C o n f n e n a and Edbition, Ohio, USA, July 2001. 121 Y. Beataoui. S. Him- %ma insight in path planning o f s m d autooomous blimp,' em Archi- o Cantml Sciences, f Poliih Academy of kiansea. Volume 11 (XLVII), N 3-4, pp. 2149, 2001. PI J. Carvalho. E de Paivq J: Azinheira. P. Ferreira. J. RM-, . S. Bueno, M. Bergerman. S. Maeta, L. Miiaola. B. Faria. A. ELles. "Clsssic and Robust PID Heading Control of an Unmanned Robotic Airship", S-poaium Intelligent Robotic Systems, SIRS1001, Ibulouse. France. July 2001. 141 P. Kungl. M. k h l e n h r . B. Krptin, ' h a t c h and fating actiyitiea with the solar pornred ainbip LOTTE within t h s M W o the airship r-.rsh f gmup at the university of Stuttgart, AIAA 14th Light- Than Air Convention and E, hibition, Akron. USA. July 2W1. I51 E. Hygounens, P. S o u h . S. Iacmix. "Dwelopmente on autonomous ainhip mntml at LAASICNRS" AIAA 14th Lighter Than Air Convention and Erhibition, Akron, USA, July 2001. 161 A. Turner, 'Development of a mi-autonomoy. mntml s y 6 tsm for the UVA m1s.r -hip AZTEC', Srd I n t e r n o t i a d Airship Convention and Erhibition, Wedrichdentex. Germany, July 2wO. [q D-A. Wimmar and K.H.Well, "Instturnentation, identification and mntml of airship LOTTE,' AIAA 14th Lightcr Than Air Convention and Erhibition, Akron, USA , Jvly 2W1. [SI 0 .A. Khoury. J. D. GiUet, "Airship Technology," Combndge Aemspoce Scnaa 10. 1999. 1 1 F Riuo. "A Study of Statis Stability o Aimhip," NACA 9 . f 2%. Septembdr 1924. [lo1 T. Fosasn. 'Guidanoe and control of ocean w h i c h , " J . Wi lev Press. 19961 1 R Fie-, 11 F L. Lewi., "Contml of 1 nonholonomic mobile . robot: backsepping kinematiu, into dynamics," 94th Conference on Decision and Contml, New Orl-. 1995. 1121 C. Samson, B. Eapia", M. La B o r a s . *Robot control: the tmk function sppmach ," Orford University h a s . Oxford England, 1991.

Fig. 11.. Line following : 3D visualization