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Empirical evaluation of a Q-Learning Algorithm for Model-free Autonomous Soaring

Lecarpentier, Erwan and Rapp, Sebastian and Melo, Marc and Rachelson, Emmanuel Empirical evaluation of a Q-Learning Algorithm for Model-free Autonomous Soaring. (2017) In: Les Journées Francophones sur la Planification, la Décision et l'Apprentissage pour la conduite de systèmes (JFPDA), 6 July 2017 - 7 July 2017 (Caen, France).

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Official URL: https://pfia2017.greyc.fr/share/actes/JFPDA/Lecarpentier_JFPDA_2017.pdf

Abstract

Autonomous unpowered flight is a challenge for control and guidance systems: all the energy the aircraft might use during flight has to be harvested directly from the atmosphere. We investigate the design of an algorithm that optimizes the closed-loop control of a glider's bank and sideslip angles, while flying in the lower convective layer of the atmosphere in order to increase its mission endurance. Using a Reinforcement Learning approach, we demonstrate the possibility for real-time adaptation of the glider's behaviour to the time-varying and noisy conditions associated with thermal soaring flight. Our approach is online, data-based and model-free, hence avoids the pitfalls of aerological and aircraft modelling and allow us to deal with uncertainties and non-stationarity. Additionally, we put a particular emphasis on keeping low computational requirements in order to make on-board execution feasible. This article presents the stochastic, time-dependent aerological model used for simulation, together with a standard aircraft model. Then we introduce an adaptation of a Q-learning algorithm and demonstrate its ability to control the aircraft and improve its endurance by exploiting updrafts in non-stationary scenarios.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Audience (conference):National conference proceedings
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:Université de Toulouse > Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace - ISAE-SUPAERO (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Office National d'Etudes et Recherches Aérospatiales - ONERA (FRANCE)
Other partners > Delft University of Technology - TU Delft (NETHERLANDS)
Laboratory name:
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Deposited By: Erwan Lecarpentier
Deposited On:30 Nov 2017 16:15

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