Electrical and Computer Engineering ETDs

Publication Date



The purpose of this thesis is to develop a control architecture running at real-time for a multi unmanned aerial vehicle test bed formed by three AscTec Hummingbird mini quadrotors. The reliable and reconfigurable architecture presented here has a FPGA-based embedded system as main controller. Under the implemented control system, different practical applications have been performed in the MARHES Lab at the University of New Mexico as part of its research in cooperative control of mobile aerial agents. This thesis also covers the quadrotor modeling, the design of a position controller, the real-time architecture implementation and the experimental flight tests. A hybrid approach combining first-principles with system identification techniques is used for modeling the quadrotor due to the lack of information around the structure of the onboard controller designed by AscTec. The complete quadrotor model structure is formed by a black-box subsystem and a point-mass submodel. Experimental data have been gathered for system identification and black-box submodel validation purposes; while the point-mass submodel is found applying rigid-body dynamics. Using the dynamical model, a position control block based in lead-lag and PI compensators is developed and simulated. Improvements in trajectory tracking performance are achieved estimating the linear velocity of the aerial robot and incorporating velocity lead-lag compensators to the control approach. The velocity of the aerial robot is computed by numerical differentiation of position data. Simulation results to a variety of input signals of the control block in cascade with the complete dynamic model of the quadrotor are included. The control block together with the velocity estimation is fully programmed in the embedded controller. A graphical user interface, GUI, as part of the architecture is designed to display real-time data of position and orientation streamed from the motion tracking system as well as to contain useful user controllers. This GUI facilitates that a single operator conducts and oversees all aspects of the different applications where one or multiple quadrotors are used. Experimental tests have helped to tune the control parameters determined by simulation. The performance of the whole architecture has been validated through a variety of practical applications. Autonomous take off, hovering and landing, target surveillance, trajectory tracking and suspended payload transportation are just some of the applications carried out employing the real-time control architecture proposed in this thesis.


Drone aircraft--Control systems, Real-time control, Multiagent systems.


National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Fulbright Faculty Development Program, Escuela Politécnica Nacional del Ecuador

Document Type




Degree Name

Electrical Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Oishi, Meeko

Second Committee Member

Naseri, Asal