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This paper presents a nonlinear controller for a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that exploits a measurement optical flow to enable hover and landing control on a moving platform, such as, for example, the deck of a sea-going vessel. The VTOL vehicle is assumed to be equipped with a minimum sensor suite [i.e., a camera and an inertial measurement unit (IMU)], manoeuvring over a textured flat target plane. Two different tasks are considered in this paper. The first concerns the stabilization of the vehicle relative to the moving platform that maintains a constant offset from a moving reference. The second concerns regulation of automatic vertical landing onto a moving platform. Rigorous analysis of system stability is provided, and simulations are presented. Experimental results are provided for a quadrotor UAV to demonstrate the performance of the proposed control strategy.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2012