RC airplane to autonomous UAV conversion: optimal control and industry standard methods

Thesis (M.S., Mechanical Engineering)--California State University, Sacramento, 2018.

A generic remote control airplane is converted into an autonomous UAV. The aircraft’s dynamic behavior is represented in state space form, with a series of 1st order differential equations. Stability and control derivatives are estimated using software based on theory and empirical data. These estimates are checked using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). A SolidWorks® model of the remote control plane is obtained with the assistance of a 3D scanner. This model is used to estimate mass properties of the airplane, and to export geometric data to ANSYS for CFD. A mathematical model of the aircraft is created in Matlab, and Simulink is used to design the autonomous UAV’s control systems. A control system for the inner loop or plant is designed using a linear quadratic regulator. A guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) system is designed for the outer loop. The performance of the UAV is analyzed in Simulink and results are discussed. Recommendations for continuation of the project are made.