Over time, adaptive control has been increasing its use in different sectors and industries since its beginnings in the aerospace, going through the control of vibrations until the use of autonomous Systems and UAS. This is possible because its features permit to optimize the automations that are under its control, something that is always very attractive for any industry.
Evolution of the Adaptive Control
Adaptive control was born in 1950, when designing the automatic control of an aircraft whose dynamic was variable in the desired range of operations. For this reason, conventional control was not capable to cover the range of operation and it is created a gain scheduling technique.
Since then, adaptive control has been extended to new applications such as drying ovens, active control of vibrations, efficient conditioning, robotics… permitting to control the process or even improve the efficiency that was performed with conventional controls.
Nowadays, one of the most important applications if the flight control of unmanned aircrafts, due to the changes in the flight dynamic, as it was previously said.
What is the Adaptive Control?
Specifically, the adaptive control is a set of techniques that permit to adjust the value of control parameters in real time, permitting to monitor controlled variables even if plant parameters are unknown or if they change over time. This control is a special kind of non-lineal control, and the process can be split in two timelines: rapid time (feedback loop) and slow time (variation of control parameters, which affects to automations).
Why and Adaptive Control and not a conventional one?
Conventional controllers are designed to adjust lineal and non-variable systems over time (LTI). This approach is true for fixed points of operations with small perturbations. When this approximation stops being true, conventional controllers performance stops being good enough. On the other hand, adaptive control is capable to adapt itself changing control parameters, keeping a good control along the process.
In the UAS industry it should be preference to implement adaptive controls instead of conventional controls, since it permits to configure the controllers in a way that it can be automatically adapted to changing flight conditions. For instance, during an UAS flight, its plant dynamic may change for different ranges of speed; in order to optimize the plant control, it is necessary a control rule capable to be adapted to this change in the system that some UAS autopilot can already manage.
For this reason, Veronte Autopilot embeds this kind of control, being capable to adapt the control to different changing situations during the flight. The adaptive control of Veronte Autopilot has been tested in many projects where it has been integrated. In these projects, it had to control weights, centers of mass, inertia, surfaces deflexion… all them changeable and its adaptation to motor or surfaces failures, with good results.