Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Bradley S. Liebst, PhD


This research investigated control loop time delay and its effect on UAV handling qualities. Compensation techniques to improve handling qualities in the presence of varying amounts of time delay were developed and analyzed. One technique was selected and successfully flight-tested on a UAV. Flight-testing occurred at a constant flight condition with varying levels of additional time delay introduced into the control loop. Research pilots performed a pitch tracking task and gave Cooper-Harper ratings and comments. Tracking errors were used as a quantitative measure of Pilot/Display/UAV system performance. Predictive pitch compensation was found to significantly reduce pilot workload and improve Cooper-Harper ratings. Using the predictive display doubled the amount of system time delay that research pilots could tolerate while tracking the task bars. Overall system tracking performance, however, was not improved. Parameter variations of ∓20% in the aerodynamic model used to generate the predictive display produced statistically significant, although not operationally significant, changes in both pilot opinion and performance. Analysis of flight test data and follow-on simulations resulted in predictor improvements that increased predictor accuracy to the point of restoring system tracking performance to equal that of the system with no additional time delay.

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The author's Vita page is omitted.