Control methodologies for relative motion reproduction in a robotic hybrid test simulation of aerial refuelling

Jonathan Luke du Bois, Peter Thomas, Steve Bullock, Ujjar Bhandari, Thomas S. Richardson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Citations (Scopus)


In many applications it is advantageous to simulate the relative motion of two bodies in a laboratory environment. This permits the testing of sensors and systems critical to the safety of equipment and personnel with reduced risk, and facilitates stage-gate management of large projects to mitigate financial risks. The University of Bristol is collaborating with Cobham Mission Equipment to develop a large-scale facility for relative motion simulation, primarily for the purpose of testing automated air-to-air refuelling systems. The facility incorporates two 6DOF articulated robotic arms whose motion is dictated by real-time numerical simulations of the physical environment. Sensors on the robot-mounted equipment feed back into the numerical simulation to perform closed loop simulations with real hardware. This paper discusses the development of the facility and the different approaches considered for achieving real-time control of the robotic hardware. It then goes on to focus on aspects of the control topologies and motion optimisation which are used to maximise the performance of the facility. The current capabilities are demonstrated with respect to an aerial refuelling exercise and future challenges are explored.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference 2012
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc.
ISBN (Print)9781600869389
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference 2012 - Minneapolis, MN, USA United States
Duration: 13 Aug 201216 Aug 2012

Publication series

NameAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference 2012


ConferenceAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference 2012
CountryUSA United States
CityMinneapolis, MN

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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