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An Analytical Review on FPGA Based Autonomous Flight Control System for

Small UAVs

Conference Paper · March 2016

DOI: 10.1109/ICEEOT.2016.7754907

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3 authors:

Banwari Lal Narendra Khatri

The LNM Institute of Information Technology

Abhishek Sharma
The LNM Institute of Information Technology


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International Conference on Electrical, Electronics, and Optimization Techniques (ICEEOT) - 2016

An Analytical Review on FPGA Based

Autonomous Flight Control System for Small
Banwari Lal Sharma Narendra Khatri Dr. Abhishek Sharma
Deptt. Of ECE Deptt. Of MME Deptt. Of ECE
The LNMIIT, Jaipur, Rajasthan, The LNMIIT, Jaipur, Rajasthan, The LNMIIT, Jaipur, Rajasthan,
India India India

Abstract— Recently small UAVs are widely used in real would also have a huge impact on the overall design, for
world applications. In the absence of the pilot, Flight control which code parallelization provides faster speed in FPGA and
system (FCS) is the brain of the any aircraft especially in the
UAVs. FCS can use various controllers such as conventional other hardware components. Small UAV is constraint to less
PID Controller, combination of PID controller with Kalman volume and weight. As per current trend in modern UAV
filter, fuzzy logic controller and FPGA /DSP based controller, development, FPGAs severed as the main architecture
etc. This paper presents, brief explanation of four techniques
platform in flight control system to provide quick and
used in the development of the flight control system for small
UAVs namely, purpose of work, flow diagram, advantages and efficient response with respect to proof of concept and time.
disadvantages. Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) /DSP
based small UAVs are better one, as it is a low power, fast In fig. 1 Flight control system in the form of an
response, less volume and compatibility to applications. The aim
autopilot, having component such as sensor, Airframe,
of this paper is to achieve a suitable characteristics compatible
with applications in the field of unmanned aviation. controller, Navigation signal and servo etc. UAV flight path,
attitude, altitude, airspeed are measured and compared to
Keywords—UAVs, FCS, FPGA, PID, LUT, RTOS, FCS20 desired state in Automatic closed loop control system.
I. INTRODUCTION Sensors and actuators are important blocks in FCS.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs) is widely used in

Air frame
real time applications (e.g. military, disaster [1] rescue
operations, civil operations, monitoring of Agricultural area,
monitoring of industrial area, photography, coastal
surveillance, combat zone surveillance, remote sensing, Attitude
ecological monitoring, natural resource estimation, command
patrolling, transport of equipment etc.). In the absence of Controller
pilot, three part of UAVs design such as Guidance,
Navigation and Control systems has to deal with all situations
of taxing, take-off, landing [12,14], obstacle, tolerating Sensor
unpredicted flight conditions, tracking moving targets and
path following etc. According to size and function UAVs are
of three types small, medium and big UAVs.
Three constraints are required for small UAVs such nal signal Controller Servo
as small size, low weight and low power. Field
Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) provides parallel Control Surface
processing (all the bit at a time) and having large numbers of
gates on a single chip (essential for less volume). FPGA also Fig1: Flight Control System (FCS)
provide cost savings platform. The software of the systems
International Conference on Electrical, Electronics, and Optimization Techniques (ICEEOT) - 2016

The sensors measure the air vehicle’s attitude, Discretization provides a discrete approximation of
angular rate, airspeed, heading, altitude and other functions the continuous problem in comparison to continuous
are measured and compared to desired states then error signal optimization which are very time consuming. Discretization
is eliminated by control surface. Controller also important provide optimum solution as well as substitution of time
block in FCS, The modification and combining of signals consuming problem so output of PID controller are
from the different axes is accomplished in the controller. In discretized. After discretization the Simulink model is
this paper four types of controllers are discussed as PID deployed in FPGA platform [3]. Parallel PID controller is
controller, PID with KALMAN filter, fuzzy logic controllers faster but the performance is not comparable to cost paid.
and FPGA /DSP based controller. Increasing critical path in PID controller reducing the
throughput of the controller. So critical paths of these
II. PID CONTROLLER controllers are broken down using appealing pipelining and
re-timing techniques to improve throughput of the controller.
Small UAVs are controlled by PID controllers.
Improve throughput of parallel PID controller in small UAVs
Nonlinear [3] model of UAVs are implemented by Aerosim
with having faster performance using proper suitable
blockset in Mat lab Simulink. In fig. 2 the representation of
algorithm. PID controllers have slow response, overshoot,
process flow of the small UAVs by PID controller is shown.
long adjustment also have limitations in optimality and
Longitudinal and lateral (linearization) planes are separated
robustness. PID Controllers are mostly used to control the
in controller after identifying the potential problems [2].
feedback mechanism, and are known for their robustness,
which is the main reason of its usefulness in small UAVs.
Open loop nonlinear model

Identify undesired thing

Non Linear Model

Linearization of model
Linear Model

Run on PID controller

PID Controller

No KALMAN Filter

Discretization Process Results

Implementation of PID Controller


Burn VHDL Code in FPGA Platform VHDL Code for FPGA

Fig.2: Flow Chart of PID controller Fig.3: Flow Diagram

International Conference on Electrical, Electronics, and Optimization Techniques (ICEEOT) - 2016

Kalman and PID controller offers short transition, Defuzzification: the fuzzy output variables are decoded into
good stability, anti-disturbance, good control and fulfills the desired values. MFLIPS using the Centre of Gravity
requirement of real-time and accurate control. Using defuzzification method.
combination of Kalman and PID controller, UAV can avoid
FPGA board come with multiple variants of logic
collision accident and accurate control. In fig. 3 the output of elements, user interface, IP generation tools and memory
the PID controller is passed through Kalman filter. Kalman options viz Artix7, Virtex-V and Cyclone II for architecture
filter is added after PID controller. This is the one change development. In general, the UAV organization includes a
from fig.1 to achieve better performance from previous one, 16-bit parallel and pipelined structure implemented using the
in this fig.3 all block work same as previous one. Accuracy integrated development environment provided by vendor.
and Stability are two important factor to achieve a target in For code compilation, linking and debugging adaptation of
tool chains and API’s are necessary. Before implementing the
small UAVs. Stability and accuracy can also be increased by
final design, it is mandatory to analysis the structural,
using different combination of Kalman and PID controller. behavioral and physical model of the system carefully.
Fuzzification method, input variables, output variables, input
IV. UAV CONTROLLER BASED ON FUZZY LOGIC membership functions amount, output membership functions
amount, rules, inferencing method, defuzzification method
In focus to UAV operation, Fuzzy [4,5] Logic offers are the design parameter of controller in fuzzy logic
decision making skill, other task provide such diverse area as approach.
fuzzy image processing, data mining, decision support,
trajectory generation and trajectory tracking. Decision Max defuzzification and center-of-gravity can be
making include path planning, collision avoidance and implemented with a tree of disjunctive elements having the
compulsory landings. To solve unexpected condition such as pipelined fuzzy processor. Crisp having input data
weather condition, faults [10] in telecommunication links and fuzzification method was implemented by Look-up Tables as
UAV subsystem failures etc. Fig.4 represents the fuzzy logic LUT is the fastest element on FPGA board. 16-bit crisp input
mechanism [6,12]. data is implemented by the address of the LUT to get the
degree of membership as membership function. Here, FPGA
Knowledge Base as the processor in Fuzzy Logic Controller. Its on-board clock
frequency is 50 MHz with an inner DLL (delay locked loop)
Data base unit, be altered to a 125 MHz system clock [14].


Fuzzy rules TECHNOLOGY

θp An integrated board having guidance, navigation

θr and control system referred to as the Flight control system 20
Fuzzy Defuz Plant (FCS20). Two processors FPGA and DSP in the system
infere zificat enables custom vehicle interfacing and fast sequential
+ processing of high level control algorithms. It is suitable for
on ncing ion
- many types of manned or unmanned system vehicles.
Processor utilization is also used in image processing,
Feedback obstacle avoidance, data encryption and any feature requited
for advanced vehicle behavior.

Fig.4: Fuzzy Logic Mechanism In fig 5 the system architecture include FCS20
hardware and low level software based on neural network and
adaptive flight control system having real time operating
Fuzzification process: fuzzification is a first step in the fuzzy system (RTOS) [8], inter-processor communication,
interfacing where certain real data are converted to a fuzzy navigation sensors and hardware integration. It is also
amounts of membership functions. platform independent so run of this high level software [6].
This hardware optimize the performance to size ratio enabled
Fuzzy Inferencing: the fuzzy rules are applied to decide the by Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) sensor and
output fuzzy variables. embedded processing technologies.

FCS20, a single board having a microprocessor, a

large FPGA, memory, power board, sensor board, and
International Conference on Electrical, Electronics, and Optimization Techniques (ICEEOT) - 2016

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