Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Lang Hong (Committee Chair), Kefu Xue (Committee Member), Xiaodong Zhang (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSEgr)


The development of an autopilot system for an RC helicopter presents interesting challengesfrom both a hardware and controls standpoint. The system detailed in this thesis utilizes a 13 state Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) to fuse sensor data and provide a position/velocity/attitude estimate. A novel, state of the art hybrid PID/LQR controller is developed and compared with a full state Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR). The hybrid controller uses a proportional position, PID velocity outer loop coupled with an inner loop LQR for attitude control. The entire system is developed and implemented in hardware to produce a functional autopilot. The unit was installed on an Align Trex 600 RC helicopter and demonstrated its ability to hover the helicopter at a desired location. Preliminary investigations have also showed the controller is capable of flying waypoints.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Electrical Engineering

Year Degree Awarded