RC planes vs drones
I was so happy to visit the Somerset RC Club a few days ago. I presented my research on drones and they were interested by the links between radio-controlled (RC) aircraft and drones. We had good discussions about the differences between a human pilot and a control algorithm. I believe a control algorithm should be able to outperform a human pilot provided it has the right information at a sufficiently high rate. To my view, a human pilot is nowadays better at racing quadcopters than a control algorithm because he can acquire and process the visual information faster than a computer … but his reaction time is still important... so in the coming years, I predict he may finally be defeated by the machine…
Another topic was the panic button that we can often find on some RC transmitters. They asked me : « Do we still need to do research on upset recovery control because we already have this technology? ». Well, in my opinion, the question boilds down to saying : « Do we still need to do research on control since a PID control law often does the job? »
All the researchers in control know this kind of questions and how frustrating they can be… Also, even the specialists in PID control know that their topic is not completely done…
I invited them to think about « What it means to do the job? ». Would they take the next aircraft that can fly but has not been certified?
For further information, I invite the readers to take a look at my research on upset recovery control (that is the design of control solutions to automatically rescue a stalled aircraft).
To conclude, I warmly thank the RC club of Somerset. The meeting was very interesting and I like their challenging questions. I also had the chance to watch their planes last saturday and enjoy their show !