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Aerial Recovery Concept Demo (Gauss's Principle)

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Demonstrate the concept of aerial recovery of miniature aerial vehicles using a towed-cable system.



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The towing vehicle (mothership) is commanded to follow a circular orbit that results a circular orbit of the towed body (drogue) with smaller radius and lower velocity relative to the mothership. The miniature aerial vehicle (MAV), which is to be retrieved, is regulated to follow the drogue orbit and to approach the drogue with a relatively low airspeed. After the MAV dock on the drogue, the towed cable and bodies (both drogue and MAV) are reeled into the mothership to complete the aerial recovery.
In this demo, Gauss’s Principle is used to derive the dynamic model of the cable-drogue system. The MAV uses missile guidance strategies to intercept the drogue.
For more information see:

Sun, L., Beard, R. W., and Colton, M. B., McLain, T. W., “Dynamics and Control of Cable-drogue System in Aerial Recovery of Micro Air Vehicles Based on Gauss’s Principle.” St. Louis, MO, USA: American Control Conference, June 2009, pp. 4729–4734.

Colton, M. B., Sun, L., Carlson, D. C., and Beard, R. W., "Multi-vehicle Dynamics and Control for Aerial Recovery of Micro Air Vehicles", Int. J. Vehicle Autonomous Systems, Vol. 9, 2011, pp. 78-107.

Comments and Ratings (6)

pang kun

Rocky Lu

Rocky Lu

Liang Sun

Liang Sun (view profile)

Kinematic models are used for both the MAV and mothership "dynamics", so aerodynamic coefficients and stability derivatives are not considered in this simulation.


Gauti (view profile)

Thank you very much :) helped me a lot.
I have a doubt... While modelling MAV dynamics or the mothership dynamics.. aerodynamic coefficients and stability derivatives should be considered? Which is the UAV that has been considered in the model.

Thank You

John Hedengren

John Hedengren (view profile)



Fixed a problem of running the simulation in MATLAB/Simulink after version 2014a.


Update the description of the file.


Adding the related publications with this application.

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