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Energy Optimal Trajectory Planning of Multicopter UAVs in Support of Marine Corps Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations


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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are becoming increasingly important in military operations, and tactical resupply for the United States Marine Corps (USMC) is one such example of an area that is calling for the benefits offered by UAVs as resupply vehicles. This study considers a generic multicopter as a delivery system designed to travel to multiple USMC units in one trip by minimizing energy consumption in the presence of severe time-varying wind. Pontrayagin's Maximum Principle and other known optimal control theories are used to formulate the trajectory optimization task as a boundary value problem. The goal for the algorithm is to take in a set of boundary conditions as well as the weather forecast (in the form of three-dimensional wind, valid for the duration of the mission) as necessary information for determining the optimal airspeed and bank angle that should be commanded to the system in order to send it along an energy-optimal route. The objective is achieved by applying an energy-performance model of a multicopter to a Boundary Value Problem (BVP) solver developed in MATLAB and analyzing the energy-optimality of the result. Multiple principles of optimal control theory are used throughout the solving process to predict certain conditions for optimality and determine the level of success of the results.



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