Fuel Optimization of Figure-8 Flight for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
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This paper investigates characteristics of minimum-fuel Figure-8 trajectories for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) at high altitude. Given that loitering over an area of interest (i.e., ground target) falls within the purview of UAV missions, previous research has shown that periodic circling flight, consisting of a boost arc (maximum thrust) and a coast arc (minimum thrust), improves the fuel consumption when compared to steady-state circling. Through numerical simulations, this work investigates the effectiveness of figure-8 flight for optimizing fuel consumption while loitering. The results show that the periodic flight improves the fuel consumption up to 5% when compared to steady-state flight. In addition, the optimal figure-8 trajectory shape is elongated compared to that of the steady-state flight. As demonstrated, this optimal control approach can improve the fuel consumption even while fuel is used during the coast arc.
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