Autonomous Control for Orographic Soaring of Fixed-Wing UAVs

Tom Suys, Sunyou Hwang, Guido C. H. E. de Croon, Bart D. W. Remes

We present a novel controller for fixed-wing UAVs that enables autonomous soaring in an orographic wind field, extending flight endurance. Our method identifies soaring regions and addresses position control challenges by introducing a target gradient line (TGL) on which the UAV achieves an equilibrium soaring position, where sink rate and updraft are balanced. Experimental testing validates the controller's effectiveness in maintaining autonomous soaring flight without using any thrust in a non-static wind field. We also demonstrate a single degree of control freedom in a soaring position through manipulation of the TGL.

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