An Innovative Tri-rotor Drone and Associated Distributed Aerial Drone Swarm Control

Junyan Hu, Alexander Lanzon

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    This paper presents a novel unmanned aerial vehicle platform based on a three rotor configuration, which can achieve the highest level of maneuverability in all 6 dimensions (i.e. 3D position and 3D attitude). The three propellers can be tilted independently to obtain full force and torque vectoring authority, such that this new aerial robotic platform can overcome the limitations of a classic quadrotor UAV that cannot change its attitude while hovering at a stationary position. A robust feedback linearization controller is developed to deal with this highly coupled and nonlinear dynamics of the proposed tri-rotor UAV, which linearizes the dynamics globally using geometric transformations to produce a linear model that matches the Jacobi linearization of the nonlinear dynamics at the operating point of interest. A distributed formation control tracking protocol is then proposed to control a swarm of tri-rotor UAVs. The 3D position and 3D attitude of each vehicle can be controlled independently to follow a desired time-varying formation. The effectiveness of the designed control strategy is illustrated in a realistic virtual reality simulation environment based on real hardware parameters from a physical construction.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)162-174
    Number of pages13
    JournalRobotics and Autonomous Systems
    Early online date22 Mar 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


    • Aerial robotics
    • Distributed systems
    • Formation control
    • Multi-agent
    • Optimal control
    • Unmanned aerial vehicles


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