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Model Simulation and Control Development of Hybrid Fuel Cell and Battery Power Unit for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
  • M. A. Rafe Biswas
(Collaboration with Dr. El-Kishky and Dr. Robinson, EENG department)
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles such as Quadcopters are becoming very popular for military, surveillance, inspection, as well as large-scale disaster management, and supply delivery applications. The most notable shortcoming of the current generation of such vehicles is the limited flight time. This problem could be attributed to the power source limitations.  Hydrogen fuel cells are very promising with relatively high energy density and yet environmentally friendly source of energy.  The fuel cell can be coupled with a battery like a Li-ion based to form a hybrid power unit that can achieve clean and dependable energy source for continuous operation of a quadcopter. In this study, the flight time can be considerably increased by utilizing an on-board dynamic model-based control architecture, which controls the power supply parameters of the vehicle for optimal operation at high efficiency. The simulation and characterization of the proposed control architecture is presented in this study.  In this paper, the fuel cell and battery are modeled as the primary power sources for the quadcopter while the four motors that run the propeller of the quadcopter are modeled as primary power sinks.  The model is simulated for various flight conditions including steady hover and lift off.  Based on the open-loop responses, the advanced control algorithm is developed.  The control strategy is a model-based optimal control approach that considers all loads to maximize the efficiency of fuel utilization.  This study is believed to have a significant impact on extending the flight time and payload of UAVs and minimizing the complexity of the control design compared to a conventional PID controllers.
Publication Date
Fall 2015
Citation Information
M. A. Rafe Biswas. "Model Simulation and Control Development of Hybrid Fuel Cell and Battery Power Unit for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle" (2015)
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