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Synthesis of robust control laws for high endurance and low cost drones (publication date: August 16, 2017)

Sujet en Français

  • Context of the project

The thesis will be carried out within the framework of the Franco-German ELCOD project involving at one side the INSA of Strasbourg and the ICube laboratory and at the other side the Offenburg Hochschule. Its main objective is to develop low-cost, wide-range drones with low-emission propulsion, for different types of missions (measurements of atmospheric pollutants, monitoring, transport of payloads). This project benefits from European funding. These drones, with a maximum weight of 25 kg, can travel several hundred kilometers with variable onboard loads. Two types of engines will be compared: one with brushless motors fueled by fuel cells; the other with an engine with optimized carburation.

  • Research work

Your research work concerns the development of a methodology for the synthesis of controllers and robustness analysis taking into account both uncertainties and flexible modes. The first part of the work will be to evaluate the aerodynamic behavior of the drone on using available simulation tools such as projects XFOIL [XFOIL] and XFLR5 [XFLR5].

Different control approaches will then be considered with increasing complexity, starting with usual linear techniques which limitation in terms of working area will be emphasized. Indeed, the behavior of the drone depends strongly on the speed, the altitude and the angle of attack. Robust synthesis techniques will allow to extend the available working space. Available tools for synthesis of structured controllers based on non-smooth optimization [AN06].

The main research axis concerns the use of control methods based on linear parameter-dependent (LPV) models [HLB14]. An LPV model will be first obtained as a good approximation of the nonlinear simulation model. Methods for model identification from experimental data can also be implemented [VMP16]. These techniques will be compared with the more usual techniques of gain scheduling [FTL17]. Finally, in a more exploratory way, an extension to LPV models of event-based control techniques is envisaged, in the aim of reducing energy consumption [MDG13]. The different approaches will be tested in simulation and then experimentally on the prototype drone.

Besides the scientific part of the thesis which will focus on development of the control, the candidate will participate with the team in the general design of the drone.

  • Bibliography
    • [AN06] P. Apkarian and D. Noll, « Nonsmooth H∞ synthesis », IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, vol. 51, no. 1, p. 71-86, Jan. 2006.
    • [MDG13] N. Marchand, S. Durand, J. Guerrero-Castellanos, « A General Formula for Event-Based Stabilization of Nonlinear Systems », IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, Vol. 58, no 5, p. 1332-1337, 2013.
    • [FTL17] S. Fleischmann, S. Theodoulis, E. Laroche, E. Wallner, J-P. Harcaut, « Controller design point selection for linearized gain scheduling », American Control Conference, Seatle (WA), United States, mai 2017
    • [HLB14] H. Halalchi, E. Laroche, G. Bara, « Flexible-Link Robot Control Using a Linear Parameter Varying Systems Methodology », International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems, p. 1-12, Volume 11, n° 46, mars 2014
    • [SLE08] F. Santoso, M. Liu and G. Egan, "H2 and H-infinity robust autopilot synthesis for longitudinal flight of a special unmanned aerial vehicle: a comparative study," IET Control Theory & Applications, vol. 2, no. 7, pp. 583-594, July 2008.
    • [VMP16] D. Vizer, G. Mercere, O. Prot, E. Laroche, « H-infinity-norm-based optimization for the determination of gray-box LTI state-space model parameters », Systems & Control Letters, Elsevier, p. 34-41, 2016
  • Keywords

Drone design and control, robust control

  • Candidate profile

Graduate of a Master's Degree in Science or Engineering with a specialization in Control, Robotics or Mechatronics, you have an experience showing your abilities to invest in a research or development project. Your general scientific knowledge and your ease with mathematical tools allow you to assimilate new theoretical concepts. You are comfortable with programming, which will allow you to program the embedded computer and develop simulation and analysis codes. You have good teamwork skills and good communication skills in English. Experience in the design or piloting of UAVs or models or other robotic and mechatronic systems will be appreciated.

  • Advising commitee

The research work will be supervised by Edouard Laroche, professor at the University of Strasbourg and specialized in the field of robust control and by Sylvain Durand, associate professor at the INSA in Strasbourg and specializing in event-based control. You will also have strong interactions with Renaud Kiefer, associate professor at the INSA in Strasbourg and responsible for the project as well as with the other members of the project.

Kick-off date: October 2017

  • Location and dates

The thesis will start at the end of 2017. The work will take place on the Illkirch campus of the ICube laboratory and at the INSA in Strasbourg located in the city center.

  • Application

You will send your application by e-mail before September 17, 2017 to and in the form of a single pdf file entitled ELCOD-PhD-NOM-PRENOM.pdf which will contain your resume, your cover letter and transcripts of the last two years. A recommendation letter and a list of people that can recommend you are welcome.

Internship for Master students (2nd year) in medical images processing (OCT)

  • Dates: From 4 to 6 months between januaray and december 2017 (more convenient between february and august)
  • Keywords: Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), Images processing, Real-time processing, medical robotics
  • Detailed offer in pdf format can be obtained HERE
  • For applying, send an email with CV, cover letter, Master syllabus and grades to Florent Nageotte :

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