A multi-armed bandit approach to atmospherically-aware altitude optimization

John J. Bird, Jack W. Langelaan

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


Small UAS typically fly at low altitudes where the atmospheric environment is complex and uncertain. Typical error in even the best modern weather forecasting systems introduces significant uncertainty into the optimal flight path for a UAS to complete a mission and the energy required. Existing approaches to managing this uncertainty involve creating flight plans whose cost is robust to uncertainty or assimilating aircraft observations into a weather model to eliminate forecast error. Robust approaches cannot respond to the real atmospheric environment and data assimilation requires a high bandwidth data link and significant computational resources be dedicated to the aircraft. This paper proposes a multi-armed bandit inspired approach to altitude optimization. By taking advantage of the spectral characteristics of atmospheric motion this approach enables an aircraft to seek low-cost altitudes while maintaining a model of the atmosphere using in situ sensing and computational resources. In simulation the approach demonstrates performance superior to a collocation based optimal control technique, identifying low cost regions and rejecting poor information provided to the planner by a forecast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA Scitech 2020 Forum
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
Number of pages1
ISBN (Print)9781624105951
StatePublished - 2020
EventAIAA Scitech Forum, 2020 - Orlando, United States
Duration: Jan 6 2020Jan 10 2020

Publication series

NameAIAA Scitech 2020 Forum


ConferenceAIAA Scitech Forum, 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'A multi-armed bandit approach to atmospherically-aware altitude optimization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this