A Tilting-Rotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Enhanced Aerial Locomotion and Manipulation Capabilities: Design, Control, and Applications

Caiwu Ding, Lu Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In this article, a novel multirotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is proposed for enhanced locomotion and manipulation in unstructured environments. The vehicle has a tilting-rotor architecture. Specifically, two pairs of rotors are mounted on two independently controlled tilting arms placed at two sides of the vehicle, forming an 'H' configuration. Such a structure endows the vehicle with more degrees of freedom, improving the maneuverability without sacrificing energy efficiency at the cost of only two additional servos compared to traditional quadcopters. Based on this architecture, a dual-level adaptive robust control is developed to cope with inertial parametric uncertainties and uncertain nonlinearities for accurate motion tracking. To resolve the redundancy in actuation, a thrust force optimization problem minimizing power consumption while achieving the desired body force wrench is formulated and solved precisely and efficiently. With the novel design and control, the proposed aerial vehicle is capable of achieving superior maneuverability, better stability and motion accuracy in the presence of uncertainties, as well as improved power efficiency compared to traditional UAVs when performing dexterous aerial locomotion and manipulation. To demonstrate the advantage of the proposed new UAV design and control in real applications, we conduct four challenging experiments on aerial locomotion and manipulation: circular trajectory tracking, passing through a narrow tunnel, picking up an object from a cluttered shelf, and aerial hole drilling. Experimental results validate the applicability of the proposed innovation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9250626
Pages (from-to)2237-2248
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Aerial manipulation
  • dual-level adaptive robust control (ARC)
  • locomotion
  • power efficiency
  • thrust force optimization
  • tilting rotor
  • unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) design


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