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Autonomous formation flight is a key approach for reducing energy cost and managing traffic in future high density airspace. The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has allowed low-budget and low-risk validation of autonomous formation flight concepts. This paper discusses the implementation and flight testing of nonlinear dynamic inversion (NLDI) controllers for close formation flight (CFF) using two distinct UAV platforms: a set of fixed wing aircraft named “Phastball” and a set of quadrotors named “NEO.” Experimental results show that autonomous CFF with approximately 5-wingspan separation is achievable with a pair of low-cost unmanned Phastball research aircraft. Simulations of the quadrotor flight also validate the design of the NLDI controller for the NEO quadrotors.

Source Citation

Rice, Caleb., Gu, Yu., Chao, Haiyang., Larrabee, Trenton., Gururajan, Srikanth., Napolitano, Marcello.,… Rhudy, Matthew. (2016). Autonomous Close Formation Flight Control With Fixed Wing And Quadrotor Test Beds. International Journal Of Aerospace Engineering, 2016.