Modeling and Control of a Small-Scale Helicopter

The focus of this thesis is the development of a generic small-scale unmanned helicopter model and an adaptive controller. A mathematical model is necessary to design a controller that drives the helicopter to the point of equilibrium. Mathematical models can be derived in two ways: 1) first principles that require rigorous applications of the physical laws of aerodynamics, 2) based on observed behaviors of the helicopter resulting in simpler empirical equations. This thesis derives the helicopter model based on the first principle, and it is implemented in Simulink. Adaptive controller is proposed for it controls the helicopter with a wider flight envelope, and this controller does not heavily rely on the system model to accurately predict the behavior of the helicopter. Systematic simulations validate the methods and algorithms developed in this thesis, and the results presented serve as a useful guide when implementing a controller for unmanned helicopter.