Unmanned aircraft research and teaching activities are conducted in the DRAT lab. Two main thrusts related to mulitrotor unmanned aircraft are currently being investigated: (1) rigorous investigation for applicability of multirotor aircraft in bridge inspection operations and (2) in-flight learning with model identification adaptive control in scenarios with little a priori model information. The lab has a 12′ x 8′ x 9′ safe flight volume that can be easily equipped with eight motion capture cameras.
Additionally, flight testing can be conducted in the UMKC Flight Test Space, which is a floating 20′ x 20′ x 10′ flight volume also housed in Flarsheim Hall.
Current research is focused on the development of advanced system identification and model-based control techniques for small unmanned aircraft. The high-level objective is for an unmanned system controller to be capable of learning how to fly with minimal to know a priori knowledge. One potential approach is to utilize real-time parameter estimation techniques (Fourier Transform Regression) coupled with a Nonlinear Dynamic Inversion (NDI) control system. Novel techniques for auto-adaptive input excitation enable minimal energy with maximum dynamic excitation information.