Performance Comparison of Controllers with Fault-Dependent Control Allocation for UAVs

Mikkel Eske Nørgaard Sørensen, Søren Hansen, Morten Breivik, Mogens Blanke

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This paper combines fault-dependent control allocation with three different control schemes to obtain fault tolerance in the longitudinal control of unmanned aerial vehicles. The paper shows that fault-dependent control allocation is able to accommodate actuator faults that would otherwise be critical and it makes a performance assessment for the different control algorithms: an L1 adaptive backstepping controller; a robust sliding mode controller; and a standard PID controller. The actuator faults considered are the partial to total loss of the elevator, which is a critical component for the safe operation of unmanned aerial vehicles. During nominal operation, only the main actuator, namely the elevator, is active for pitch control. In the event of a partial or total loss of the elevator, fault-dependent control allocation is used to redistribute control to available healthy actuators. Using simulations of a Cessna 182 aircraft model, controller performance and robustness are evaluated by metrics that assess control accuracy and energy use. System uncertainties are investigated over an envelope of pertinent variation, showing that sliding mode and L1 adaptive backstepping provide robustness, where PID control falls short. Additionally, a key finding is that the fault-dependent control allocation is instrumental when handling actuator faults.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)187–207
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Nonlinear longitudinal motion control
  • Fault-tolerant UAV control
  • L1 adaptive backstepping control
  • Sliding mode control
  • Fault-dependent control allocation
  • Performance metrics

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