Networked operation of a UAV using Gaussian process-based delay compensation and model predictive control

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This study addresses an operation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in a network environment where there is time-varying network delay. The network delay entails undesirable effects on the stability of the UAV control system due to delayed state feedback and outdated control input. Although several networked control algorithms have been proposed to deal with the network delay, most existing studies have assumed that the plant dynamics is known and simple, or the network delay is constant. These assumptions are improper to multirotor-type UAVs because of their nonlinearity and time-sensitive characteristics. To deal with these problems, we propose a networked control system using model predictive control (MPC) designed under the consideration of multirotor characteristics. We also apply a Gaussian process (GP) to learn an unknown nonlinear model, which increases the accuracy of path planning and state estimation. Flight experiments show that the proposed algorithm successfully compensates the network delay and Gaussian process learning improves the UAV’s path tracking performance.