Wind field estimation in UAV formation flight

Trenton Larrabee, Haiyang Chao, Matthew Rhudy, Yu Gu, Marcello R. Napolitano

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

24 Scopus citations


Wind and turbulence, including wakes induced by leading aircraft, have a large impact on flight performance and flight safety of both manned and unmanned aircraft. An accurate real-time wind estimation technique is crucial for tasks such as increasing air traffic capacity, commercial formation flight, or aerial refueling, etc. A leader-follower formation flight of Phastball Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were used as the experimental platform for the above problem. The air data system of Phastball UAV was developed with pitot-tube and flow-angle sensors. Using the designed system, two Unscented Kalman Filters (one standalone UKF and one cooperative UKF) were developed for the wind field estimation with and without using the wake information from the leader aircraft. For close formation flights, the wake of the leader is assumed to be predictable by certain wake models for the follower aircraft. Flight data showed the effectiveness of the standalone EKF for the wind estimation compared with the ground weather station measurements. Simulation results showed the advantage of the cooperative UKF over the standalone UKF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2014 American Control Conference, ACC 2014
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9781479932726
StatePublished - 2014
Event2014 American Control Conference, ACC 2014 - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Jun 4 2014Jun 6 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of the American Control Conference
ISSN (Print)0743-1619


Other2014 American Control Conference, ACC 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPortland, OR

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Wind field estimation in UAV formation flight'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this