Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Sun Yi


Autonomous control of mobile robots has attracted considerable attention of researchers in the areas of robotics and autonomous systems during the past decades. One of the goals in the field of mobile robotics is development of platforms that robustly operate in given, partially unknown, or unpredictable environments and offer desired services to humans. Autonomous mobile robots need to be equipped with effective, robust and/or adaptive, navigation control systems. In spite of enormous reported work on autonomous navigation control systems for mobile robots, achieving the goal above is still an open problem. Robustness and reliability of the controlled system can always be improved. The fundamental issues affecting the stability of the control systems include the undesired nonlinear effects introduced by actuator saturation, time delay in the controlled system, and uncertainty in the model. This research work develops robustly stabilizing control systems by investigating and addressing such nonlinear effects through analytical, simulations, and experiments. The control systems are designed to meet specified transient and steady-state specifications. The systems used for this research are ground (Dr Robot X80SV) and aerial (Parrot AR.Drone 2.0) mobile robots. Firstly, an effective autonomous navigation control system is developed for X80SV using logic control by combining ‘go-to-goal’, ‘avoid-obstacle’, and ‘follow-wall’ controllers. A MATLAB robot simulator is developed to implement this control algorithm and experiments are conducted in a typical office environment. The next stage of the research develops an autonomous position (x, y, and z) and attitude (roll, pitch, and yaw) controllers for a quadrotor, and PD-feedback control is used to achieve stabilization. The quadrotor’s nonlinear dynamics and kinematics are implemented using MATLAB S-function to generate the state output.

Secondly, the white-box and black-box approaches are used to obtain a linearized second-order altitude models for the quadrotor, AR.Drone 2.0. Proportional (P), pole placement or proportional plus velocity (PV), linear quadratic regulator (LQR), and model reference adaptive control (MRAC) controllers are designed and validated through simulations using MATLAB/Simulink. Control input saturation and time delay in the controlled systems are also studied. MATLAB graphical user interface (GUI) and Simulink programs are developed to implement the controllers on the drone. Thirdly, the time delay in the drone’s control system is estimated using analytical and experimental methods. In the experimental approach, the transient properties of the experimental altitude responses are compared to those of simulated responses. The analytical approach makes use of the Lambert W function to obtain analytical solutions of scalar first-order delay differential equations (DDEs). A time-delayed P-feedback control system (retarded type) is used in estimating the time delay. Then an improved system performance is obtained by incorporating the estimated time delay in the design of the PV control system (neutral type) and PV-MRAC control system. Furthermore, the stability of a parametric perturbed linear time-invariant (LTI) retarded type system is studied. This is done by analytically calculating the stability radius of the system. Simulation of the control system is conducted to confirm the stability. This robust control design and uncertainty analysis are conducted for first-order and second-order quadrotor models. Lastly, the robustly designed PV and PV-MRAC control systems are used to autonomously track multiple waypoints. Also, the robustness of the PV-MRAC controller is tested against a baseline PV controller using the payload capability of the drone. It is shown that the PV-MRAC offers several benefits over the fixed-gain approach of the PV controller. The adaptive control is found to offer enhanced robustness to the payload fluctuations.