Current students


Section: Systems and Control

Major Research topic:
Development and experimental validation of control approaches for Systems of TEthered Multicopters (STEM)

This research will deliver an experimental proof-of-concept of a new class of drones for civil applications, named STEM - Systems of TEthered Multicopters. STEM consists of a formation of two or more multicopter drones tethered to each other, where at least one unit is also connected to a ground station providing power supply.
On-board and on-ground smart winches regulate the length of the tethers, to suitably trade off the conflicting objectives of limiting the pulling forces and avoiding excessive tether sag, which could cause entanglement with obstacles in the operating environment.
This new technology has been investigated only in the last years and is still a largely unexplored scientific invention. Due to its novelty and complexity, STEM is well suited to an intensive and detailed research aimed at developing control algorithms for its autonomous navigation.In fact, this system features the interactions of several agents, with nonlinear, open-loop unstable dynamics, connected by tethers, whose dynamic behaviour is also nonlinear and can be highly uncertain.
Furthermore, the study of path planning in a cluttered environment where strong unmeasured disturbances, like wind, can also take place, is a major challenge for such a complex system and its analysis can be extended to a wide class of autonomous vehicles. Beside attitude controllers, also estimation of tethers’ configuration, obstacle detection, uncertainty quantification and recovery strategies are crucial to maintain a stable airborne behaviour. All these aspects make the control problem of STEM complex and call for advanced sensor fusion and control approaches.
The research will develop, and validate experimentally, approaches able to cope with these problems.