UAV Parameter Estimation Through Machine Learning

Andres Enriquez Fernandez, University of Texas at El Paso


Parameter identification of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) is very helpful for understanding cause-effect relationships of physical phenomenon, investigating system performance and characteristics, fault diagnostics, control development/tuning, and more. Traditional ways of performing parameter identification involve establishing a mathematical model that describes the system’s behavior. The equations in the model contain parameters that are estimated indirectly from measured flight data. This parameter identification process requires knowledge of the physics involved. Also, it necessitates a careful consideration of the aircraft instrumentation for accurate measurements. It also requires careful design of the flight maneuvers to ensure thorough excitation of the flight dynamics involved. Finally, one must select a suitable identification method. The purpose of this paper is to show the application of machine learning for parameter identification of a UAV model. The machine learning algorithm does not require developing parameterized models; hence it is an equation-less identification method. To provide input to the system, a simulation model of the aircraft is generated. The parameters of the model can be modified in the simulation. The aircraft flight measurement data is obtained directly from the model as simulation outputs from a predetermined flight path. The data is submitted to a machine learning algorithm that is able to read and recognize the data. The machine learning algorithm is trained with a set of flight data that incorporates variations in the parameters to be identified. Finally, the algorithm is tested by feeding unknown flight data to predict the output. To achieve autonomous and consistent flights, a Software-In-the-Loop (SIL) simulation is constructed between X-Plane and Mission Planner. X-Plane is a realistic flight simulator where the UAV model is created, and flight physics are modeled. Mission Planner is the Ground Control Station (GCS) that generates and sends the flight commands to be executed in X-Plane. Several machine learning regression models are explored including linear regression, regression trees, Gaussian process regression, support vector machines and ensembles of regression trees.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering|Artificial intelligence

Recommended Citation

Fernandez, Andres Enriquez, "UAV Parameter Estimation Through Machine Learning" (2020). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI28258989.