Purdue University Graduate School
Thesis David Richter.pdf (19.1 MB)

Simulated Fixed-Wing Aircraft Attitude Control using Reinforcement Learning Methods

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posted on 2021-12-20, 17:59 authored by David Jona RichterDavid Jona Richter
Autonomous transportation is a research field that has gained huge interest in recent years, with autonomous electric or hydrogen cars coming ever closer to seeing everyday use. Not just cars are subject to autonomous research though, the field of aviation is also being explored for fully autonomous flight. One very important aspect for making autonomous flight a reality is attitude control, the control of roll, pitch, and sometimes yaw. Traditional approaches for automated attitude control use PID (proportional-integral-derivative) controllers, which use hand-tuned parameters to fulfill the task. In this work, however, the use of Reinforcement Learning algorithms for attitude control will be explored. With the surge of more and more powerful artificial neural networks, which have proven to be universally usable function approximators, Deep Reinforcement Learning also becomes an intriguing option.
A software toolkit will be developed and used to allow for the use of multiple flight simulators to train agents with Reinforcement Learning as well as Deep Reinforcement Learning. Experiments will be run using different hyperparamters, algorithms, state representations, and reward functions to explore possible options for autonomous attitude control using Reinforcement Learning.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Technology

Campus location

  • Hammond

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Ricardo A. Calix

Additional Committee Member 2

Tae-Hoon Kim

Additional Committee Member 3

Keyuan Jiang