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We consider adaptive output feedback control of uncertain nonlinear systems, in which both the dynamics and the dimension of the regulated system may be unknown. However, the relative degree of the regulated output is assumed to be known. Given a smooth reference trajectory, the problem is to design a controller that forces the system measurement to track it with bounded errors. The classical approach requires a state observer. Finding a good observer for an uncertain nonlinear system is not an obvious task. We argue that it is sufficient to build an observer for the output tracking error. Ultimate boundedness of the error signals is shown through Lyapunov's direct method. The theoretical results are illustrated in the design of a controller for a fourth-order nonlinear system of relative degree two and a high-bandwidth attitude command system for a model R-50 helicopter.
Date of Publication: Nov 2002