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A05 - Control system design, implementation and applications for a semi-autonomous remote piloted airship

Small unmanned airships have traditionally been limited to low-tech applications such as advertising, where endurance and precise control were not necessary. It is suggested that improvements in stability, control
and navigation of these craft could broaden their capabilities to include precise, repeatable inspection and recording. Advancements in battery technology, envelope material, solar cell film and engine efficiency are
extending the operational period for these vehicles, however, exact control is still not generally available for airships; despite the emergence of sophisticated lightweight micro-controllers and sensors. One possible
explanation for this situation is the unusual control problems presented by airships, such as slow oscillatory modes, and heavily speed dependant flight characteristics. However it appears that they do share features with
known helicopter systems, for which a large body of work regarding modern multivariable control strategies (eigenstructure assignment) may prove of great use in the stabilisation and control of airships. Using the rotationally symmetric wind profile of the lenticular form airship with a limited flight envelope, it has been possible to begin the development of a suitable control system. This has already yielded useful real word results in the form of internal building recording, including both glass and stonework, and the analysis of a supposed crack high in York Minster.

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