Disturbance Observer Based Control with Anti-Windup Applied to a Small Fixed Wing UAV for Disturbance Rejection

Jean Smith*, Jinya Su, Cunjia Liu, Wen Hua Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are attracting increasing interest due to their favourable features; small size, low weight and cost. These features also present different challenges in control design and aircraft operation. An accurate mathematical model is unlikely to be available meaning optimal control methods become difficult to apply. Furthermore, their reduced weight and inertia mean they are significantly more vulnerable to environmental disturbances such as wind gusts. Larger disturbances require more control actuation, meaning small UAVs are far more susceptible to actuator saturation. Failure to account for this can lead to controller windup and subsequent performance degradation. In this work, numerical simulations are conducted comparing a baseline Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR) controller to integral augmentation and Disturbance Observer Based Control (DOBC). An anti-windup scheme is added to the DOBC to attenuate windup effects due to actuator saturation. A range of external disturbances are applied to demonstrate performance. The simulations conduct manoeuvres which would occur during landing, statistically the most dangerous flight phase, where fast disturbance rejection is critical. Validation simulations are then conducted using commercial X-Plane simulation software. This demonstrates that DOBC with anti-windup provides faster disturbance rejection of both modelling errors and external disturbances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-346
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems: Theory and Applications
Issue number2-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, The Author(s).


  • Anti-windup
  • Disturbance observer
  • External disturbance
  • UAV


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