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Inspiring and Challenging Laboratory Exercise in Multivariable Control Theory – The Four-rotor Helicopter

Author(s): Dag A. H. Samuelsen | Olaf H. Graven

Journal: Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics
ISSN 1690-4532

Volume: 10;
Issue: 6;
Start page: 25;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: DSP | Helicopter | Multivariable Feedback Control

Engineering students in a module on multivariable control theory are given a laboratory exercise for developing their skills in practical implementation of control systems. This is done in an effort to create a more complete module that gives the students experiences in the practical sides of implementing control systems, while still being theoretically challenging and inspiring. Presenting students with this kind of real-life challenges like sub-optimal models, limited processing time and large degree of uncertainty, is a challenging task, partly due to the need of adapting the level of complexity to the student or group of students doing the exercise in order to keep them engaged throughout the exercise, and in part due to the university's need to reduce expenses related to the administration, supervision, and execution of laboratory exercises. The possibility of adapting the complexity of the exercise to each student's skill level is important, both through the design of the exercise and through the students choosing between different models. The eager student might be tempted by the better performing, but more complex models, while the struggling student can find satisfaction in stabilising the aircraft using the less complex models. The laboratory setup presented uses low-cost components, giving low investment and maintenance costs.
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