Theses and Dissertations

Waypoint Control for a Wingtip Connected Meta Aircraft

Date of Award


Document Type



Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Carlos Montalvo, Ph.D.


Dr. Joseph Richardson, Dr. Robert Cloutier, Dr. Karl Ousterhout


A meta aircraft is multiple aircraft connected together to form a composite aircraft. There are three configurations for a meta aircraft which are wingtip to wingtip, nose to tail, and lattice formation. In this thesis, a waypoint control law to be used on a meta aircraft is discussed. The control law controls the roll and pitch stability, velocity, altitude, and heading to move the aircraft to a desired location. The control law was tested in both simulation and in the field. To test the waypoint control law, the design and testing of a configurable autopilot and simulation software were also explored. The software was developed with four modes, 3 simulation modes and an autopilot mode. Two of the simulation modes were used to test the control law on both a single fixed wing aircraft and meta aircraft. After successful simulation, the autopilot mode was used to fly a commercial off the shelf radio control fixed wing aircraft with the control law. A single fixed wing aircraft was tested before the meta aircraft in order to validate the control law was working properly. Along with the waypoint control law, the design of the fixed wing aircraft was investigated to create a meta aircraft. The fixed wing aircraft design, software design, and waypoint control law design are presented, and the simulation and field test results for both the single fixed wing aircraft and meta aircraft are discussed.

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