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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N00924X/1
Title: At the limits of adaptive systems: constrained adaptive control
Principal Investigator: Turner, Professor MC
Other Investigators:
Prempain, Dr E
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Engineering
Organisation: University of Leicester
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 March 2016 Ends: 31 August 2019 Value (£): 291,038
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Control Engineering Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Oct 2015 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 1 October 2015 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Adaptive control systems are able to adapt themselves to their environment automatically by using algorithms which update their parameters; simply put, they are self-tuning controllers. This is a very appealing feature and, in principle, allows a controller to evolve in order to enhance its performance or to increase its tolerance of uncertainty. In niche applications (most notably in the US aerospace industry) adaptive controllers have proven to be very successful. At the same time all control systems have limits on the "input" they apply to a system (e.g. limits on voltage and current in electrical systems; limits on force and torque in mechanical systems). It is well known if these limits are not accounted for properly in controller design, they can cause the system performance to degrade and may even drive it to instability.

In otherwise linear systems these features are reasonably well understood and so-called "anti-windup" compensators have been devised which can protect a controller against this sort of catastrophic performance degradation. Unfortunately, adaptive controllers are, by their very nature, nonlinear and it is far more difficult to devise control strategies which can handle the potentially toxic mix of adaptation algorithms and control constraints.

This research aims to address the above gap in the control engineer's toolbox by proposing anti-windup compensators for adaptive control systems subject to input constraints. These compensators will serve as retro-fits to existing adaptive control schemes and will only become active when saturation occurs. When this happens the compensators will assist the adaptive controller in maintaining stability and performance and also, via a mechanism we call an "adaptive freeze", prevent the adaptive update algorithms from entering instability themselves. The research will provide mathematical algorithms which can be used to (i) design the adaptive anti-windup compensators and (ii) can be used to analyse constrained input adaptive systems. This second part of the research will enable one to compare the new anti-windup compensators with other measures which have been proposed to tackle input constraints in adaptive control systems.

The research aims to demonstrate these new anti-windup compensators on an in-house developed uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) in order to understand the merits and deficiencies of the proposed compensators. The Leicester UAV requires an adaptive control system to extract the best performance from it but, due to its small size and limited motor capacity, is very vulnerable to saturation effects during gusty flight conditions. It will provide a challenging application on which to test the new anti-windup algorithms. Both simulation studies and flight tests will be undertaken.

Ultimately, it is hoped that the research will enable the control engineer to glimpse a hitherto hidden aspect of adaptive control and that the tools developed will better equip him/her for tackling input constraints in adaptive systems.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.le.ac.uk