Electrical and Computer Engineering ETDs


Ivana Palunko

Publication Date



In this dissertation, we address problems that can occur during load transport using aerial robots, i.e., small scale quadrotors. First, detailed models of such transportation system are derived. These models include nonlinear models of a quadrotor, a model of a quadrotor carrying a fixed load and a model of a quadrotor carrying a suspended load. Second, the problem of quadrotor stabilization and trajectory tracking with changes of the center of gravity of the transportation system is addressed. This problem is solved using model reference adaptive control based on output feedback linearization that compensates for dynamical changes in the center of gravity of the quadrotor. The third problem we address is a problem of a swing-free transport of suspended load using quadrotors. Flying with a suspended load can be a very challenging and sometimes hazardous task as the suspended load significantly alters the flight characteristics of the quadrotor. In order to deal with suspended load flight, we present a method based on dynamic programming which is a model based offline method. The second investigated method we use is based on the Nelder-Mead algorithm which is an optimization technique used for nonlinear unconstrained optimization problems. This method is model free and it can be used for offline or online generation of the swing-free trajectories for the suspended load. Besides the swing-free maneuvers with suspended load, load trajectory tracking is another problem we solve in this dissertation. In order to solve this problem we use a Nelder-Mead based algorithm. In addition, we use an online least square policy iteration algorithm. At the end, we propose a high level algorithm for navigation in cluttered environments considering a quadrotor with suspended load. Furthermore, distributed control of multiple quadrotors with suspended load is addressed too. The proposed hierarchical architecture presented in this doctoral dissertation is an important step towards developing the next generation of agile autonomous aerial vehicles. These control algorithms enable quadrotors to display agile maneuvers while reconfiguring in real time whenever a change in the center of gravity occurs. This enables a swing-free load transport or trajectory tracking of the load in urban environments in a decentralized fashion.


Drone aircraft--Stability., Stability of helicopters., Aerodynamic load., Payloads (Aerospace engineering), Dynamic programming.


National Science Foundation

Document Type




Degree Name

Electrical Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Fierro, Rafael

First Committee Member (Chair)

Oishi, Meeko

Second Committee Member

Abdallah, Chaouki

Third Committee Member

Poroseva, Svetlana