Joint project ReCo

  Model aircraft lands on moving ground vehicle Copyright: © FSD/IRT

Precise Rendezvous Control of Highly Heterogeneous Air and Ground Vehicle Systems


Key Info

Basic Information

01.11.2018 to 31.10.2021


The landing gear accounts for a significant portion, typically about 5 percent, of the maximum take-off weight of an aircraft. Therefore, eliminating or replacing the landing gear is particularly interesting for aircraft with extremely long flight times, also known as High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE). The deadweight is a decisive factor in determining the range of HALE aircraft. In addition, there is also considerable potential for energy and emissions savings in wide-body aircraft, possibly resulting in a decisive cost advantage.


Project goals and methods

Sponsored by the German Research Foundation

The project aims to develop methodological foundations in the field of control engineering and flight system dynamics that enable the automated landing of an aircraft on an autonomously driving ground vehicle. For this purpose, both systems’ spatial degrees of freedom must first be synchronized during landing and then synchronously decelerated to a standstill. Key challenges are the ground vehicle’s and aircraft’s highly heterogeneous dynamics and communication-related dead times. Furthermore, the system must be robust to external disturbances, such as strong wind gusts and failures of sensors and actuators. For this purpose, model predictive approaches for trajectory planning and trajectory tracking control are developed. In addition to the methodological work, the algorithms are experimentally validated on scaled test vehicles, with the “IRT-Buggy” vehicle platform developed at IRT serving as the ground platform.


Innovations and Perspectives

The landing of a landing gear-less aircraft on a moving platform is the subject of future developments, and its methodological fundamentals are investigated in the ReCo project. Innovative control concepts and methods that exploit sensor and actuator redundancies and can thus react adaptively to disturbances must be developed to achieve a safe and reliable overall system in the future.

Project partner