Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Aerospace, Physics, and Space Sciences

First Advisor

Tiauw Hiong Go

Second Advisor

Mark Archambault

Third Advisor

Paavo Sepri

Fourth Advisor

Ivica Kostanic


Perching is a type of aggressive maneuver performed by the class ‘Aves’ species to attain precision point landing with a generally short landing distance. Perching capability is desirable on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) due to its efficient deceleration process that potentially expands the functionality and flight envelope of the aircraft. This dissertation extends the previous works on perching, which is mostly limited to two-dimensional (2D) cases, to its state-of-the-art three-dimensional (3D) variety. This dissertation presents the aerodynamic modeling and optimization framework adopted to generate unprecedented variants of the 3D perching maneuver that include the sideslip perching trajectory, which ameliorates the existing 2D perching concept by eliminating the undesirable undershoot and reliance on gravity. The sideslip perching technique methodically utilizes the lateral and longitudinal drag mechanisms through consecutive phases of yawing and pitching-up motion. Since perching maneuver involves high rates of change in the angles of attack and large turn rates, introduction of three internal variables thus becomes necessary for addressing the influence of dynamic stall delay on the UAV’s transient post-stall behavior. These variables are then integrated into a static nonlinear aerodynamic model, developed using empirical and analytical methods, and into an optimization framework that generates a trajectory of sideslip perching maneuver, acquiring over 70% velocity reduction. An impact study of the dynamic stall influence on the optimal perching trajectories suggests that consideration of dynamic stall delay is essential due to the significant discrepancies in the corresponding control inputs required. A comparative study between 2D and 3D perching is also conducted to examine the different drag mechanisms employed by 2D and 3D perching respectively. 3D perching is presented as a more efficient deceleration technique with respect to spatial costs and initial altitude range. Contraction analysis is shown to be a useful technique in identifying the state variables that are required to be tracked for attaining stability of optimal perching trajectories. Based on the selected tracking variables, two sliding control strategies are proposed and comparatively examined to close the control loop and provide the required robustness and convergence to the optimal perching trajectory in the presence of perturbations and dynamic stall model inaccuracies. This dissertation concludes that the sliding controller with the adaptive gain feature is more effective and essential in providing better tracking performance through illustrations of the corresponding convergence area and at higher intensity of perturbations.


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