Robust Attitude Control for Quadrotors Based on Parameter Optimization of a Nonlinear Disturbance Observer

Shatadal Mishra, Todd Rakstad, Wenlong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This paper presents a nonlinear disturbance observer (NDOB) for active disturbance rejection in the attitude control loop for quadrotors. An optimization framework is developed for tuning the parameter in the NDOB structure, which includes the infinity-norm minimization of the weighted sum of noise-to-output transfer function and load disturbance sensitivity function. Subsequently, the minimization generates an optimal value of the parameter based on the tradeoff between disturbance rejection and noise propagation in the system. The proposed structure is implemented on PIXHAWK, a real-time embedded flight control unit. Simulation tests are carried out on a custom built, high-fidelity simulator providing physically accurate simulations. Furthermore, experimental flight tests are conducted to demonstrate the performance of the proposed approach. The system is injected with step, sinusoidal, and square wave disturbances, and the corresponding system tracking performance is recorded. Experimental results show that the proposed algorithm attenuates the disturbances better compared to just a baseline controller implementation. The proposed algorithm is computationally cheap, an active disturbance rejection technique and robust to exogenous disturbances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number081003
JournalJournal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement and Control, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Disturbance attenuation
  • nonlinear disturbance observer
  • nonlinear systems
  • quadrotor
  • unmanned aerial vehicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Instrumentation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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