The Development of Neural Network Based System Identification and Adaptive Flight Control for an AutonomousHelicopter System
Thesis DisciplineMechanical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis presents the development of self adaptive flight controller for an unmanned helicopter system under hovering manoeuvre. The neural network (NN) based model predictive control (MPC) approach is utilised in this work. We use this controller due to its ability to handle system constraints and the time varying nature of the helicopter dynamics. The non-linear NN based MPC controller is known to produce slow solution convergence due to high computation demand in the optimisation process. To solve this problem, the automatic flight controller system is designed using the NN based approximate predictive control (NNAPC) approach that relies on extraction of linear models from the non-linear NN model at each time step. The sequence of control input is generated using the prediction from the linearised model and the optimisation routine of MPC subject to the imposed hard constraints. In this project, the optimisation of the MPC objective criterion is implemented using simple and fast computation of the Hildreth's Quadratic Programming (QP) procedure.
The system identification of the helicopter dynamics is typically performed using the time regression network (NNARX) with the input variables. Their time lags are fed into a static feed-forward network such as the multi-layered perceptron (MLP) network. NN based modelling that uses the NNARX structure to represent a dynamical system usually requires a priori knowledge about the model order of the system. Low model order assumption generally leads to deterioration of model prediction accuracy. Furthermore, massive amount of weights in the standard NNARX model can result in an increased NN training time and limit the application of the NNARX model in a real-time application. In this thesis, three types of NN architectures are considered to represent the time regression network: the multi-layered perceptron (MLP), the hybrid multi-layered perceptron (HMLP) and the modified Elman network. The latter two architectures are introduced to improve the training time and the convergence rate of the NN model. The model structures for the proposed architecture are selected using the proposed Lipschitz coefficient and k-cross validation methods to determine the best network configuration that guarantees good generalisation performance for model prediction.
Most NN based modelling techniques attempt to model the time varying dynamics of a helicopter system using the off-line modelling approach which are incapable of representing the entire operating points of the flight envelope very well. Past research works attempt to update the NN model during flight using the mini-batch Levenberg-Marquardt (LM) training. However, due to the limited processing power available in the real-time processor, such approaches can only be employed to relatively small networks and they are limited to model uncoupled helicopter dynamics. In order to accommodate the time-varying properties of helicopter dynamics which change frequently during flight, a recursive Gauss-Newton (rGN) algorithm is developed to properly track the dynamics of the system under consideration.
It is found that the predicted response from the off-line trained neural network model is suitable for modelling the UAS helicopter dynamics correctly. The model structure of the MLP network can be identified correctly using the proposed validation methods. Further comparison with model structure selection from previous studies shows that the identified model structure using the proposed validation methods offers improvements in terms of generalisation error. Moreover, the minimum number of neurons to be included in the model can be easily determined using the proposed cross validation method. The HMLP and modified Elman networks are proposed in this work to reduce the total number of weights used in the standard MLP network. Reduction in the total number of weights in the network structure contributes significantly to the reduction in the computation time needed to train the NN model. Based on the validation test results, the model structure of the HMLP and modified Elman networks are found to be much smaller than the standard MLP network. Although the total number of weights for both of the HMLP and modified Elman networks are lower than the MLP network, the prediction performance of both of the NN models are on par with the prediction quality of the MLP network.
The identification results further indicate that the rGN algorithm is more adaptive to the changes in dynamic properties, although the generalisation error of repeated rGN is slightly higher than the off-line LM method. The rGN method is found capable of producing satisfactory prediction accuracy even though the model structure is not accurately defined. The recursive method presented here in this work is suitable to model the UAS helicopter in real time within the control sampling time and computational resource constraints. Moreover, the implementation of proposed network architectures such as the HMLP and modified Elman networks is found to improve the learning rate of NN prediction. These positive findings inspire the implementation of the real time recursive learning of NN models for the proposed MPC controller. The proposed system identification and hovering control of the unmanned helicopter system are validated in a 6 degree of freedom (DOF) safety test rig. The experimental results confirm the effectiveness and the robustness of the proposed controller under disturbances and parameter changes of the dynamic system.