Global 
stabilization 
of a PVTOL 
aircraft 

with 
bounded 
thrust 

I. 
Fantoni, A. Zavala 1, R. Lozano 

Heudiasyc, UMR CNRS 6599 UTC, BP 20529 60205 CompiSgne, France 

{ifantoni/zavala/rlozano}@hds. ut 
c. 
fr 

Abstract 

Global stabilizing control design is proposed for the pla nar vertical takeoff and landing (PVTOL) aircraft. The methodology is based on the use of nonlinear combina tions of saturation functions bounding the thrust input to arbitrary saturation limits. The algorithm is simple and provides global convergence of the state to the ori gin. 
year, Martin et al. [5] presented an extension of the result proposed by Hauser [2]. Their idea was to find a flat output for the system and to split the output track ing problem in two steps. Firstly, they designed a state tracker based on exact linearization by using the flat output and secondly, they designed a trajectory gener ator to feed the state tracker. They thus controlled the tracking output through the flat output. In contrast to the approximatelinearization based control method proposed by Hauser, their control scheme provided out of the aircraft (i.e. c ¢ 0). Sepulchre et al. [81 applied 

Keywords: Aircraft control, 
Nonlinear 
control 
put tracking of nonminimum phase flat systems. They 

systems, Global stabilization, 
Saturated 
functions, 
have also taken into account in the design the coupling 

Bounded control. 
between the rolling moment and the lateral acceleration a linear high gain approximation of backstepping to the 

1 Introduction 
approximated model neglecting the coupling. In 1999, 

Numerous design methods for the flight control of the Planar Vertical Take Off and Landing (PVTOL) air craft model exist in the literature. Indeed, this partic ular system is a simplified aircraft with a minimal num ber of states and inputs but retains the main features that must be considered when designing control laws for a real aircraft. Since, the system possesses special prop erties such as, for instance, unstable zero dynamics and signed (thrust) input, several methodologies for control 
Lin et al. [3] studied robust hovering control of the PV TOL using nonlinear state feedback based on optimal control. Reza OlfatiSaber [6] proposed a configuration stabilization for the VTOL aircraft with a strong input coupling using a smooth static state feedback. M. Saeki et al. [7] offered a new design method which makes use of the center of oscillation and a twostep linearization. In fact, they designed a controller by applying a linear high gain approximation of backstepping to the model. A recent paper on an internalmodel based approach for the autonomous vertical landing on an oscillating plat 

ling such a system have been proposed. Hauser et al. [21 in 1992 applied an approximate IO linearization proce R. Teel [121 illustrated his central result of nonlinear small gain theorem using the example of the PVTOL 
form has been proposed by Marconi et al. [41. They 

dure which results in bounded tracking and asymptotic stability for the V/STOL aircraft. In 1996, Andrew aircraft with input corruption. His theorem provided 
presented an errorfeedback dynamic regulator that is robust with respect to uncertainties of the model pa rameters and they provided global convergence to the zeroerror manifold. 

a formalism for analyzing the behavior of control sys 
In 
the 
present 
paper, 
we present a global stabilizing 

tems with saturation. He established a stabilization al 
strategy for the control of the PVTOL aircraft. The 

gorithm for nonlinear systems in socalled feedforward 
proposed algorithm copes with a bounded thrust and 

form which includes the PVTOL aircraft. The same 
takes 
into account 
its 
positive nature. 
The stability 

1On leave from Instituto Potosino 
de Investigacidn 
Cienfffica 
proof is simple. As far as we are aware, the previous 

y 
Tecnoldgica, Mexico, erural: azavala@titan.ipicyt.edu.mx, 
works on the topic do not cover all these features simul 

his participation in this research work was supported by the Cen 
taneously. The paper is organized as follows. In section 

tre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France. 

2, we recall the equations of motion for the PVTOL air
craft. In section 3, the global stabilizing
control law is
developed. Simulations are presented in section 4 and
conclusions are finally given in section 5.
2
The
PVTOL
aircraft
model
The PVTOL aircraft dynamics are modelled by the fol lowing equations [2]
= 
 
+ 

 
COS(0)% 
1 
@ 
£sin(0)% 
2 
 
1 
(1) 

I 
%2 

where 
x, y denote 
the 
center 
of mass 
horizontal 
and 

vertical position 
and 
0 
is 
the 
roll angle 
of the 
aircraft 

with the horizon. 
The control 
inputs 
Ul and 
u2 
are the 

thrust 
(directed out the bottom of the aircraft) 
and 
the 

angular acceleration 
(rolling moment). 
The 
parameter 
c is a small coefficient which characterizes the coupling
between the rolling moment and the lateral acceleration
of the aircraft. The constant "1" is the normalized
gravitational acceleration. 
Figure 
1 provides a repre 

sentation 
of the system. 
In general, c is negligible 
and 

y 

y 
....... 

i i 

0 
> 

x 
X 

Figure 
1: The PVTOL 
aircraft 
(fi'ont view) 

not always wellknown 
[2]. Therefore, 
it is possible 
to 

suppose that 
c 
0, 
i.e. 

 
 sin(O)u 
I 
(2) 

 
Cos(O)tt I 
 
1 
(3) 
(4)
Furthermore, several authors have shown that by an ap propriate change of coordinates, we can obtain a rep
resentation of the system
[6,
7,
91.
For instance,
R.
without
the
term
due
to
c
OlfatiSaber [61 applied the
following change of coordinates
 
 
(5) 

 
y 
+ 
(cos(O) 
 
l) 
(6) 
The 
system 
dynamics 
considering 
these 
new 
coordi 

nates become 

 sin(0)~21 

~) 
 
Cos(O)~ 
1 
 
1 
(7) 

 
%2 

where Ul 
 
Ul 
 
st) 2. 
Note that 
this structure 
(7) has 

the 
same form as 
(1) with c 
 
0. 
Out" control objective 
is to stabilize the PVTOL
aircraft to the origin.
3
Global
stabilizing
input
Let us begin by explaining the background philosophy of the proposed control scheme. Notice that the PV TOL dynamics (2)(4) can be divided in two subsys
tems according to the nature of the motion: the rota tional motion equation (4), and the translational mo
tion dynamics (2)(3).
The first one consists of a double
integrator with u2 as unique external input. It evolves 

independently of the translational motion variables. 
On 
the contrary, the second one consists of two (indepen
dent) double integrators with U l and 0 as common ex
ternal forcing agents. Hence, as done in
[8,
61,
0
can
be viewed as an intermediate (fictitious) input to con
trol, together with Ul, subsystem (2)(4). Under such perspective, let us define
gl 
 
v/r 2 + 
(1 + 
(8) 

e 
= 
at'ctan(rl, r2) 2 1 [ r2) 
(9) 

Note that Ul > 
0. 
0 in (9) represents the (unique) angle y/r~ + (l+r2) 2 and cos0 = l+r2 y/r~ + (l+r2) 2" 

such that sin 0 
= 
~~ 

By taking (8) 
and 
(9), 
it follows that 

 
7"1 
(10) 

 
7" 2 

with 
r 1 
and 7"2 as free functions (auxiliary inputs) that 

can 
be 
suitably 
defined 
to 
achieve our 
control objec 

tive. 
The convenient 
selection of rl 
and r2 
actually 

constitutes the 
second 
step 
of the 
design 
methodol 

ogy. 
Finally, 
the 
last 
step 
consists 
in 
the 
consider 

ation of the 
rotational 
motion equation 
to 
determine 

an 
appropriate 
u2 
that 
makes 0 follow 
the 
desired 

motion 
expressed 
in 
(9). 
Nevertheless, 
the 
second 

order 
dynamics 
(4) 
does 
not permit 
u2 to 
give di 

rectly 
any desired 
form 
to 
0. The 
idea 
is, 
then, to 

achieve 
lira 0(t) = aI'ctan(rl, 1 + r2). 
As 
a conse 

t+ oc 

quence, 
lira 2(t) t+ cc 
= 
rl 
and 
lira 9(t) t+cc 
= 
r2. 
Now, rl 

and 
r2 
could 
be 
simply 
selected as 
linear 
stabilizing 

state 
feedbacks, 
i.e. 
rl 
= 
kllX 
k12k 
and r2 

k21y 
k22~/, with 
kij 
> 
0, Vi, j = 
1,2, 
as is ac 

tually 
proposed 
in 
[71 
and 
[81. Moreover, 
a similar 
tracking version 
could be 
considered 
for 
us 
in 
(4), 

i.e. us = Od 
 
k31(O  Od) 
 
k32([~  [~d), with 
Od 

arctan(rl, 1 + 
r2) and k3i 
> 
0, 
Vi 
= 
1, 2, 
as exposed 

in [7] 1 . Nevertheless, such 
approaches 
do not 
seem 

to be appropriate 
whenever 
Ul and/or 
us 
are 
(physi 

cally) bounded 
inputs. This constitutes 
the interest 
of 

the present 
study: to provide a solution to our control 

problem whenever the thrust 
is furnished 
by an 
actua 

tor with (output) 
saturation 
limits 
(which is a realistic 

case). In other words, we take 
Ul 
_< U1 (recall that 
the 

thrust is by 
nature nonnegative) 
for some 
finite 
posi 

tive (constant) 
U1. We consider the proposed approach 

to constitute 
a 
first step 
towards 
a complete 
solution 

considering both Ul and us bounded, 
which we are cur 

rently working on. necessary Notice, for the 
from 
(3), that 
U1 > 
1 
is 
a 

condition 
PVTOL 
to 
be stabilizable 

at any desired 
position. 
Indeed, 
any 
static condition 

implies that 
the 
aircraft's 
weight 
be compensated. 
In 

such scenario, 
the selected functions 
rl, 
r2, 
and 
us 
are 

based on the 
stabilization 
approach 
proposed 
in 
[11]. 

Therefore, they 
are defined 
in terms 
of linear 
satura 

tion functions, 
whose definition is recalled in [11]: 

Definition 3.1 
Given two 
positive 
constants 
L, 
M 

with L <_ M, a function ~ 
" J~ 
+ 
J~ 
is 
said 
to 
be a 

linear saturation for (L, M) 
if 
it 
is 
a continuous, 
non 
decreasing function satisfying
(~) 
~(~) 
> 
o fo~ ~ll 
~ ¢ 
0 

(~) 
~(~) 
 
~ ~h~ 
~ <_ L 

(~) 
~(~) 
<_ M fo~ 
~ll 
~ c 

Our main result is now stated. 
Theorem 3.1 Consider the P VTOL dynamics (2)(4)
with thrust saturation 
bound 
U1 
> 
1. 
Let us define 

u, 
 
v/r~ 
+ 
(1 
+ 
r2)2, 
wi#~ 
r, 
 
~12(~ 
+ ~11 (x + ~)) 

~d 
~ 
 
~(~ 
+ 
~,(y 
+ 
~)), 
~d 
~ 
 
Od  ~3~(0 + 

~31(0+0)), 
~ithO 
A 
OOd 
~dOd 
 ~rct~.(~,, l+~), 

where 
the functions 
aij 
(i 
 
1, 2, 3, j 
 
1, 2) are twice 

differentiable linear 
saturations 
for 
given 
(Lij,M, ij), 

with M,il 
< 
 
1, 2, 3, 
and M12 
and M22 such 

that M22 
< 
1 and M~2+(1+M22) 2 <_ U~. 
Then, for arty 

_{w}_{(}_{O}_{)} 
_{C} 
_{~}_{6} 
_{w}_{h}_{e}_{r}_{e} _{w} 
_{}_{A} 
(x,k,y,{/,O,O), 
lira w(t)  O, 

t+oo 

~ith 
0 < 
1  
M~ 
_< ~1 (t) _< x/M~ + 
(1 + 
M~)~ _< U,, 

Vt>0. 

Proof: 
Let 
z 
(*,~,v 
, 
o)r 
~d 
~ 
~  (O 0)r , . Not~ 

that 
in 
view of the 
choice 
of 
u2 
the 
(t~, t)) subsystem 
1Though, strangely enough, ~Jd and 0d are neglected in the control law when a stabilization objective equivalent to the one taken here is considered.
is given by ~1 
 
~2, 
~2 
 
Cr32(~2 
qCr31(~1 
q~2)). 

Hence, from Theorem 
2.1 
in 
[11], it follows that, for any 

~5(0) C lg 2, 
lira 
~5(t)  
0. 
That is 0 + Od as 
t + co. 
In 

/~+oo 

the limit when 
0  
Od, the 
(x, k) and 
(y, ~)) subsystems 

are given by 

,~1 
 
Z2 

,~2  
0"12(Z2 @ 0"11(Z1 @ Z2)) 

~3  
z4 

,~4  
022(z4 
+ 
021(z3 + 
z4)) 
The stability of the overall system during the transient
when 0 + Od can be guaranteed
by the result of Sontag
[10]. 
The stability 
of the 
system when 
0 
 
Od is again 

obtained fi'om Theorem 2.1 in [11]. It then follows that, 

for any z(0) 
C 
//~a, 
lira z(t) t+ oo O, with 
rx(t) 
_< MI2 

and 
r2(t) 
< M22, 
Vt > O. 
Now, from the 
definitions 
of 

rl, 
r2, crij (i 
 
1, 2, 3, j  
1, 2), and Od, it is not 
difficult 

to 
check that 
such 
asymptotical stabilization 
of 
z 
im 

plies 
lira R(t) t+oc 
O, where 
R A (rl,r2,?l,?2)T, 
which 

in 
turn entails 
lira 
Od(t) 
O, where 
Od 
A (Od, od)r 

t+oc 

with 
0 < 1 
M22 
ul(t) 
v/M122 + (1 + 
M22) 2 
U1, 

Vt 
_> 0. Then, 
the proof follows. 
• 

Let 
us note 
that 
if M22 
were permitted 
to take 
val 

ues 
greater 
than 
1, U l could 
eventually 
vanish 
which 

would result 
in 
a 
control 
singularity 
(recall 
the 
def 

inition of u2) 
since t)d 
= 
rli'2(1+r2)i'l 
and 
0d 

~1~:2(1+~2)~'120e(~1¢1+(1+~2)¢2)Constraining M22 to 

be selected smaller than 
1, such singularity 
is avoided. 
Finally, let us emphasize on the fact that 
Od 
is 
gen 

erated 
on line according 
to 
a state dependent 
relation 

(the proposed control algorithm is actually a global sta 

bilizing nonlinear 
state feedback). 
In other words, 
it 
is 

not a prespecified time dependent 
function. 
Hence, the 

bound 
on Od  Od(Z) depends on the state initial condi 

tions and cannot be arbitrarily fixed. Therefore, 
Corol 

lary 
2.1 in [111 cannot 
be 
applied to the 
closedloop 

rotational motion dynamics, u2 is, then, a bounded 

input 
whose bound 
depends 
on 
the state 
initial 
condi 

tions. 
Bounding 
u2 
to 
an 
arbitrary (saturation) limit 

(as done with 
Ul) 
is 
still to 
be 
considered 
and 
consti 

tutes 
(as mentioned 
above) 
our current research work. 

4 
Simulation 
results 

In this 
section, 
we present 
some simulation 
results us 

ing MATLAB 
and 
SIMULINK 
in order to observe the 

performance 
of the 
proposed control law. 
In particu 

lar, we have considered 
two different examples 
and 
for 
both, 
we started 
the PVTOL 
aircraft at 
the same 
ini 

tial 
conditions, 
i.e. (x(0), 2(0), y(0), ~)(0), 0(0), t)(0)) 

(50, 0, 0, 0, 
~, 0). 
Note 
that 
the 
aircraft 
initial 
roll 

angle exceeds 
g. In 
fact, 
in 
contrast 
to 
some 
ap 

proaches which require that 
the roll angle be restricted 

to 
(~, 
~) 
(see 
for instance 
[1, 2, 
61), 
the 
proposed 

method 
allows 
0 C ff~. 
The 
linear 
saturations 
used 

in these simulations are described 
in Appendix 
A. 
For 

the 
first example, we 
have chosen 
a 
thrust 
satura 

tion 
bound 
U1 
= 4 and 
linear 
saturation 
parameters 

M32 = 
4, 
L32 = 
3.5, M31 
= 1.5, L31 = 
1, 
M22 = 
0.9, 

L22 
= 
0.8, 
]///21 = 
0.3, 
L21 
= 
0.2, M12  
3.5, 
L12 = 
3.1, 

Mll 
= 
1.5, Lll 
= 1. The results are shown on Figures 2 

and 
3. 
Observe that the thrust 
input 
Ul remains within 

its saturation bounds. 
Then, 
in the second example, we 

have 
chosen 
a thrust 
saturation 
bound 
U1 
= 
2, in 
or 

der 
to 
observe 
the effect 
of saturations. 
The 
rest 
of 

the 
parameters 
are M32 = 
2, 
L32 = 1.8, 
M31 
= 
0.8, 

L31 
= 
0.7, 
M22 = 
0.9, 
L22 = 
0.8, M21 = 
0.3, 
L21 = 
0.2, 

M12 
 0.6, 
L12 
 0.5, Mll 
 0.2, Lll 
 
0.1. 
We clearly 

see, on Figure 
5 that the thrust 
input 
U l saturates 
dur 

ing 
the 
first 5 seconds. 
The 
obvious 
consequence is 

that 
x 
and 
y (on Figure 
4) 
converge slowly 
compared 

to 
Figure 
2. 
The performance 
of 
the 
proposed 
con 

troller is however satisfactory 
since global stabilization 

is achieved with a restrictive thrust 
bound. 
For compar 

ison 
purposes, 
we provide 
simulations, 
with 
the 
same 

initial 
conditions, 
using the 
stabilizing 
lin 

ear feedbacks rl 
= kllX 
unbounded k12:;b, r2 = k21Y 
k22~/ !%1 

(s)), 
= 

with Od = gains as in 
arctan(rl, [71, i.e. kll 
1+r2). We selected the feedback = 1.69, k12 = 1.82, k21 = 2.89, 

k22 
= 
2.38, 
k31 
= 72.5, 
k32 = 
13.6. 

shown in Figures 
6 and 
7. 
Notice that The results are even though the 

time responses 
are short, 
U l takes initially large values 

(~ 
84; see Figure 
7). 

5 
Conclusions 
Based on the results presented in [11] a global stabiliza tion control scheme is proposed for the PVTOL aircraft. Compared to the previous works, the exposed solution takes into account saturation bounds and the positive nature of the thrust input. Furthermore, the stability proof is simple. Several numerical simulations support the theoretical results.
Appendix 
A 

Any linear saturations 
crij 
(i 
 1, 2, 3, 
j 
 1, 2) can 
be 

taken 
for the implementation 
of the 
proposed control 

strategy, 
provided 
that 
they 
are 
twice 
differentiable. 

We present the linear 
saturations, and 
their first 
and 

second derivatives with respect to their argument, 
used 
un
first and second derivatives with respect to its
argument
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