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Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

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A survey of hybrid Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Adnan S. Saeed a, *, Ahmad Bani Younes b, Chenxiao Cai c, Guowei Cai d
Aerospace Engineering, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Aerospace Engineering, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182, USA
School of Automation, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, 210094, PR China
Robotics Institute, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates


Keywords: This article presents a comprehensive overview on the recent advances of miniature hybrid Unmanned Aerial
Hybrid UAVs Vehicles (UAVs). For now, two conventional types, i.e., fixed-wing UAV and Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL)
Platform design UAV, dominate the miniature UAVs. Each type has its own inherent limitations on flexibility, payload, flight
Dynamic modeling range, cruising speed, takeoff and landing requirements and endurance. Enhanced popularity and interest are
Flight control recently gained by the newer type, named hybrid UAV, that integrates the beneficial features of both conventional
Fixed wing VTOL
ones. In this survey paper, a systematic categorization method for the hybrid UAV's platform designs is intro-
duced, first presenting the technical features and representative examples. Next, the hybrid UAV's flight dynamics
model and flight control strategies are explained addressing several representative modeling and control work. In
addition, key observations, existing challenges and conclusive remarks based on the conducted review are dis-
cussed accordingly.

1. Introduction and rotorcraft UAV. Each type has advantages but exhibits inherent
limitations. The fixed-wing UAV generally advances in cruising speed,
During the last several decades, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) payload capacity, flight range, and endurance. However, it requires
have experienced a tremendous development and gained fast-growing runways or launching/recovery equipment with special design for reli-
popularity worldwide. Nowadays, UAVs are extensively used in various able takeoff and landing. In addition, it is not applicable to missions
critical military and defence applications such as reconnaissance, sur- requiring ultra low flight speed or confined environment. On the other
veillance, and security reinforcement. According to [1,2], the total sector hand, the rotorcraft UAV has much looser requirements on takeoff and
sales of the global military UAV market is expected to increase by more landing spots. It also features the unique hovering capability, which
than 60% between 2011 and 2020. brings much enhanced versatility in executing a mission. However, the
Nevertheless, UAVs applications are not limited to military and speed and endurance limit significantly trunks the rotorcraft UAV's
defence: the market of civilian UAVs has recently grown rapidly, capability in missions requiring wide-range coverage or long endurance.
covering a wide range of areas such as traffic surveillance, disaster As such, a newly emerging and promising trend of UAV design, partic-
management, infrastructure inspection, law enforcement, and vegetarian ularly for miniature UAVs, is to design an aerial system that integrates the
monitoring. Many studies (see, e.g. [1,3,4]) predict that there is a high advantages of both, operates in a wider envelope (i.e., vertical takeoff,
chance that the utilization of civilian UAVs will eventually dwarf the transition, cruise, and vertical landing), and contributes to a much
military demand in the near future. The promising future and unlimited broader range of applications. Inspired by such demanding need, the
potential of UAVs have also ignited strong interest in academia: hybrid UAV, or fixed-wing Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAV in
numerous research works have been carried out on UAVs that are either other words, is born.
commercially available or customized and a large amount of algorithms Indeed, integrating the advantages of fixed-wing and rotary aircraft
and techniques has been developed aiming at enhancing the UAVs' in- has long been a concern for the aerospace and aviation industries. Over
telligence in guidance, navigation, and control. the years, there have been quite a number of attempts to build manned
UAV platforms are currently dominated by two types: fixed-wing UAV hybrid aircraft. Several representative examples are shown in Fig. 1,

* Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (A.S. Saeed).
Received 27 December 2017; Received in revised form 17 March 2018; Accepted 20 March 2018
Available online 30 March 2018
0376-0421/© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

recent advances of the miniature hybrid UAVs. According to our

List of acronyms knowledge, remarkable progress has been mainly achieved in three as-
pects: platform design, flight dynamics modeling, and flight control.
UAV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Correspondingly, the remaining content of this paper is organized as
VTOL Vertical Takeoff and Landing follows: Section 2 addresses the platform design, in which a systematic
LTV Ling-Temco-Vought categorization method for the hybrid UAVs is proposed and the technical
RC Radio-Controlled features as well as the representative hybrid UAV platforms for each type
GL Greased Lightning are detailed. In Section 3, an overview of hybrid UAVs' flight dynamics
QTW Quad Tilt Wing modeling and flight control techniques is presented addressing a
MTT Mono Thrust Transitioning comprehensive analysis of the representative modeling and control
CTT Collective Thrust Transitioning research work. Finally, key observations, existing challenges and key
DTT Differential Thrust Transitioning conclusion remarks are drawn in Section 4. It should be highlighted that
FDCL Flight Dynamics and Control Laboratory the scope of this paper is particularly limited to the miniature hybrid
PID Proportional-Integral-Derivative UAVs. Thus, the word ”miniature” will be omitted in the remaining
LQR Linear Quadratic Regulator contents.
PD Proportional-Derivative
P Proportional 2. Platform design
PI Proportional-Integral
SDRE State Dependent Riccati Equation Generally, hybrid UAVs are categorized into two types: convertiplane
and tail-sitter. A convertiplane maintains its airframe orientation in all
flight modes, and certain transition or switching mechanisms are
employed to achieve mode transfer. On the other hand, a tail-sitter is an
including: Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey [5,16], Vertol VZ-2 [6,17], Sikorsky
aircraft that takes off and lands vertically on its tail, and the entire
X-wing [7,18], Harrier GR7 [8,19], Convair XFY-1 [9,20], Lockheed
airframe needs to tilt to accomplish cruise flight. As shown in Fig. 2, both
XFV-1 [10,21], Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) XC-142 [11,22], and Canadair
are further categorized into a few sub-types, depending on the specific
CL-84 [12,23]. Some of them did achieve remarkable success and a few
transition mechanisms and airframe configurations. In what follows of
manned hybrid aircraft such as Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey and Harrier GR7
Section 2, we will address all subtypes, analyze their design features,
are still in service. Within the last five years, the hybrid aircraft design
discuss the advantages and disadvantages of every subtype, and intro-
concept has gained increasing popularity in miniature UAV development,
duce representative examples.
given 1) the increasing maturity of miniature UAV design and
manufacturing, 2) the steady cost reduction of miniature UAV develop-
ment, and 3) the saturation of the conventional miniature fixed-wing and 2.1. Convertiplane
rotary UAVs. As a result, a number of pioneer research work has been
documented in literature, and a few designs such as BirdsEyeView A variety of mechanisms have been implemented in developing the
FireFLY6 [13], X PlusOne [14] and MartinUAV V-Bat [15] have been convertiplane UAVs to achieve the transition between vertical flight and
commercialized successfully. For now, the hybrid UAV development is cruise flight. In general, the convertiplane UAVs are classified into four
still in its infancy, and there is a huge space for the hybrid UAVs to sub-types: 1) tilt-rotor, 2) tilt-wing, 3) rotor-wing, and 4) dual-systems.
become more mature in terms of many critical perspectives such as
design philosophy, dynamics modeling, control, guidance, navigation, 2.1.1. Tilt-rotor
and robustness. Nevertheless, given their rapidly growing popularity, it is A tilt-rotor UAV has multiple rotors mounted on the tilting shafts or
believed that the hybrid UAVs will have a bright future and promptly nacelles. During the hover-to-cruise transition, partial or all rotors tilt
form an essential pillar of the UAV market. towards flight direction to provide the aircraft forward speed until the
In this paper, we intend to provide a comprehensive overview on the cruise flight is achieved. Since the birth of the first tilt-rotor UAV (i.e.,

Fig. 1. Examples of manned hybrid aircraft.

A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

Fig. 2. Categorization of miniature hybrid UAVs.

Fig. 3. Representative examples of bi-rotor convertiplane UAVs.

Bell Eagle Eye [16]) in 1993, the tilt-rotor design concept has nested a treated as the pioneer in the field of bi-rotor convertiplane UAVs by
number of aerospace enterprises and research institutes, and as a result unveiling Bell Eagle Eye UAV shown in Fig. 3 (a) (i.e., a scaled-down,
tens of tilt-rotor UAVs have been developed and flight-tested. Accord- unmanned version of the manned hybrid aircraft V-22 Osprey shown
ingly, the tilt-rotor UAVs are further categorized into three branches: 1) in Fig. 1(a)) to the world [24,25,30]. It was later adopted by a number of
bi-rotor, 2) tri-rotor, and 3) quad-rotor, which will be all detailed in what small-scale bi-rotor convertiplane UAV prototypes such as the NUAA
follows. In the description of each branch, three main aspects will be tilt-rotor UAV prototype shown in Fig. 3(b) [26]. It is noted that for such
addressed: 1) main feature(s), 2) operation principle, and 3) represen- design the two rotors produce constant rolling torques to both wings and
tative design cases. fuselage, resulting in relatively shorter wing span and thicker airfoil. As a
A bi-rotor convertiplane UAV employs two tilting rotors to provide lift consequence, the aircraft has a relatively poor aerodynamic performance
in hover and thrust in cruise. When operating in the cruise mode, a bi- in terms of aspect ratio and drag.
rotor convertiplane works very similarly to a conventional fixed-wing An alternative bi-rotor convertiplane solution was unveiled in 2011
aircraft (i.e., thrust is provided by rotors, and various control surfaces by AgustaWestland Project Zero shown in Fig. 3(c), which integrates
are used to achieve the roll, pitch and yaw motions). On the other hand, flying-wing fuselage and twin embed-in-fuselage motor design [27].
when operating in the vertical mode, pitch is generated by the forward Such combination theoretically eases the request on the lift and thrust in
longitudinal cyclic pitch produced by the forward tilting of the proprotor the cruise mode but makes the attitude stabilization in hover more
discs. Moreover, the availability of nacelle lateral tilting and collective challenging. Furthermore, the fuselage-rotor interaction effect is a crit-
and cyclic pitch are pretty important for generating yaw and roll motions. ical issue for such UAV's operation, particularly in transition stage and
According to our survey, the most dominant rotor configuration for cruise mode. So far, only its basic hovering capacity has been initially
bi-rotor convertiplane UAVs is that the two rotors are mounted on the flight-demonstrated in 2013.
tilting nacelles or shafts that are located on the wing tips. Such design There are two small-scale convertiplanes (the Navig8 and the UPAT
concept was first introduced in 1993 by the Bell Helicopter Inc., which is UAV shown in Fig. 3) which adopted the bi-rotor design methodology

A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

[28,29]. The Navig8 UAV features an aerodynamical fuselage design that design features relatively good payload capacity. For instance, accord-
generates additional lift in cruise flight. The UPAT UAV is built with a ing to [24,31–33] the TURAC can approximately carry the same payload
highly simplified mechanical design for initially examining the proposed capacity as the IAI Panther with an obvious wing-span reduction. It was
low-level control algorithms but shows the emerging interest in the also noted that a few of additional design features have been employed to
academia. improve the performance of the tri-rotor flying-wing convertiplanes. For
Another popular convertiplane design, which is particularly domi- instance, in order to simplify the rolling and yawing control in the hover
nant in the small-scale convertiplane UAV market, is the tri-rotor mode, TURAC adopts a co-axial rear rotor whereas FireFLY6 adopts the
configuration. In the vertical mode, all three rotors are directed up- Y-6 (i.e., three co-axial rotors) configuration. Furthermore, aero-
wards and the operation principle is analogous to the Y-configuration dynamical feature was intended to be optimized by all designers through
VTOL drones. The transition to cruise mode occurs by tilting one or two selecting appropriate airfoils [34], Computational Fluid Dynamics
rotors forward to generate thrust and gain airspeed. While in the cruise (CFD)-analyzing the performance [31,34], and winglet utilization.
mode, the tri-rotor convertiplane UAV works very similarly to a con- The third but relatively rare convertiplane UAV design is the quad-
ventional fixed-wing aircraft (i.e., thrust is provided by rotors, and rotor configuration, which can be further divided into two sub-types:
various control surfaces are used to achieve the roll, pitch and yaw mo- “ þ ” style and “  ” style. According to our survey, very few hybrid
tions). Tri-rotor convertiplane generally features the following three UAVs were constructed based on quad-rotor configuration, and only two
advantages: 1) the lift generation requirement on each rotor can be representative prototypes have been found, that is, Phantom Swift
reduced roughly from 50% to 33% of the total UAV weight, 2) rotor developed by Boeing and Quantum Tron developed by Quantum Systems
configuration is geometrically symmetric with respect to the UAV's [35,36] shown in Fig. 4. The former mainly features “ þ ” style rotor
center of gravity, which can effectively ease the attitude stabilization of configuration and tilting shrouded rotors mounted on the wing tips for
the tri-rotor convertiplane in hover mode, and 3) the rear rotor is thrust generation during cruise flight. In the hover mode, Phantom Swift
constantly fixed to the fuselage and thus causes minor additional me- generally operates as a “ þ ” style quadcopter with the enhanced yawing
chanical design complexity. The first world-acknowledged remarkable controllability provided by the tilting rotors. The Quantum Tron in-
success in the tri-rotor convertiplane UAV development is the Panther tegrates the “  ” style quad-rotor configuration, sailplane aircraft design,
UAV shown in Fig. 4(a), which was developed by IAI Inc [24]. It is and retractable rotor blades. During hover, the Quantum Tron works as a
currently served for military tactical usage. As the pioneer, Panther UAV “  ” style quadcopter while in cruise flight mode, the front two rotors tilt
adopts sailplane fuselage and wing design and low-wing configuration, forward for thrust generation, and the two rear rotors are not in usage.
aiming at desired tradeoff between the flight endurance and versatility. Furthermore, the blades of rear rotors are naturally retracted to minimize
However, such design is indeed rarely followed by other designers the drag caused for cruising. Currently, the critically challenging issue for
worldwide for either scientific research or commercialization. Instead, both aforementioned prototypes is the transition of techniques developed
the combination of tri-rotor and flying-wing fuselage has recently gained for the miniature scale demonstrators to the full-scale counterparts.
emerging popularity, which is reflected by the fact that three of the four
representative tri-rotor convertiplane UAVs (i.e., Orange Hawk, TURAC 2.1.2. Tilt-wing
and FireFLY6 shown in Fig. 4) addressed in this survey fall into this line. The primary feature of the tilt-wing convertiplane is that partial or the
Such trend following is mainly caused by three reasons: 1) miniature or entire wing is required to be tilted together with the rotors during flight-
small-scale flying-wing aircraft is low-cost and easily available in the mode transition. The tilt-wing convertiplane design can be traced back to
Radio-Controlled (RC) communities, 2) the enhanced capability of the the period 1957 to 1965, when Boeing Vertol pioneered this area by
low-cost auto-pilot systems (e.g., PixHawk or DJI-NAZA) is sufficient to developing a manned tilt-wing aircraft named Vertol VZ-2 shown in
handle the hybrid UAV control, and 3) aerodynamically flying-wing Fig. 1(b) [6]. Compared with the tilt-rotor, a tilt-wing convertiplane

Fig. 4. Representative examples of tri-rotor and quad-rotor convertiplane UAVs.

A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

generally features more complicated and sophisticated design in sophisticated speed-control mechanism of the multiple rotors and
on-board components such as tilting drive train. Furthermore, in enhancing controllability in case of the malfunction of one or few rotors.
low-speed operation (i.e., hover, takeoff, and landing), the wings of a Another very successful example is the DHL parcelcopter which is tar-
tilt-wing convertiplane need to be directed upwards, which makes the geted for parcel delivery in mountainous regions. As previously
aircraft more vulnerable to cross wind and thus requires additional effort mentioned, the hybrid UAVs pave the way for increasing payload ca-
in developing control mechanisms to handle the attitude stabilization. pacity while maintaining high cruise speed and long flight range. DHL
Due to such inherent challenges, the tilt-wing design concept did not took advantage of this as the latest version 2.2 m wingspan hybrid UAV
regain sufficient popularity until the year of 2000, when the (parcelcopter 3.0) is able to carry a payload of 2 kg and have a cruise
manufacturing technology of miniature RC aircraft became more mature speed of 70 km/h with a flight distance of around 8 km and is loaded and
and its potential in the miniature UAV market was gradually dug out by unloaded automatically [42]. Moreover, it has successfully completed
UAV designers. Over the last decade, tilt-wing convertiplane UAVs have the three-month test and has been logistically integrated into the delivery
been researched actively, and a number of representative cases (shown in chain [43].
Fig. 5) have been found through our survey, including: HARVee [37], Two tandem-wing convertiplane UAVs prototypes shown in Fig. 5(f)
AVIGLE [38–40], Greased Lightning (GL) VTOL Drone [41,48], DHL and (g) have been developed by academic institutes as an extension of
parcelcopter [42,43], AT-10 Responder [24], Quad Tilt Wing (QTW) their research on routine quad-copter aerial vehicles. Mechanically, both
VTOL UAV [44,45], and SUAVI [46,47]. . Generally, tilt-wing converti- surveyed tandem-wing convertiplane platforms follow an almost iden-
plane UAVs fall into two main categories: single-wing configuration and tical configuration: four fixed-pitch rotors are mounted on the edge of the
tandem-wing configuration. tandem wings, and two tilting mechanisms are employed, each of which
Single-wing configuration is treated as the most popular solution to is attached to a pair of the tandem wings for collective tilting. During
the miniature tilt-wing convertiplane UAV development, as five of the hover, a tandem-wing convertiplane UAV is operated similar to an “  ”
aforementioned seven representative examples (i.e., HARVee, AVIGLE, style quad-copter with the assistance of the on-board attitude stabiliza-
GL VTOL Drone, AT-10 Responder and DHL parcelcopter) adopt such tion system. Differential tilting function to a wing set (front or rear) is not
concept. HARVee is an early work developed by a young research group required and thus can significantly simplify the design of the tilting drive
[37]. The aerodynamic performance is relatively coarse, given the two train. Furthermore, it should be noted that airfoil selection and the
facts: 1) only two fixed-pitch motors are integrated with a sailplane interaction between the front and rear wings are highlighted in all the
aircraft, and 2) the entire wing is required to tilt for realizing the tran- documentations related to both UAVs (i.e. [44–47]), which indicates the
sition. In hover-mode, the HARVee operates similar to a bi-rotor critical importance of these two issues for achieving desired flight
convertiplane as explained previously. Additional mechanical design performance.
innovations have been employed by all the subsequent efforts, aiming at
improving the stabilization performance of the tilt-wing convertiplane 2.1.3. Dual-system
UAVs, particularly in hover-mode. More specifically, the designers of the The third type of convertiplane UAVs is referred to as dual-system. It
AT-10 Responder invented a unique tilting mechanism for drag/dis- utilizes two sets of propulsion systems: one contains upward mounted
turbance reduction; the wing of the AT-10 Responder is separated into rotor (or rotors) for vertical operation and another adopts tractors or
two parts. Only the inner part with the fixed-pitch motors mounted on pushers for cruise flight. As tilting mechanism is not required for dual-
the leading edge is able to tilt. As for AVIGLE, another novel mechanism system convertiplane, such aircraft, compared with the two aforemen-
featuring the integration of variable blade pitch and aileron control on tioned convertiplanes, features simplified mechanical design and
top of differential wing tilting has been adopted, providing rich freedom enhanced reliability. However, during cruise flight, the multiple non-
for attitude control in hover mode. On the other hand, GL VTOL Drone operational rotors for vertical lift generation cause extra aerodynamic
adopts a substantially different control mechanism by employing ten drag due to their fixed mounting, resulting in additional burden to the
fixed-pitch rotors (eight are located on the leading edge of the wings and tractors or pushers. Six representative dual-system examples have been
the remaining two are with the horizontal stabilizers). Consequently, the discussed in this section, including: HADA [50], Quadcruiser [51],
attitudes of GL VTOL Drone are well controlled by implementing a Arcturus JUMP [52], Hybrid Quadcopter [53], SLT VTOL UAV [54], and

Fig. 5. Representative examples of tilt-wing convertiplane UAVs.

A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

Fig. 6. Representative examples of dual-system convertiplane UAVs.

TU-150 [55]. These UAVs are illustrated in Fig. 6 for convenient refer- Stop-Rotor aircraft [60], respectively. The main reason for such inactivity
ence. Based on the number of rotors employed for vertical flight, the is that the unique rotor-wing feature poses over critical challenges to a
dual-system convertiplane UAVs consist of three sub-types: compound qualified solution to balance the design complexities in terms of aero-
helicopter (one rotor) as in Ref. [56], bi-rotor dual-system and quad-rotor dynamics and mechanics. For the X-50 DragonFly, the symmetric rotor
dual-system. The operation principle of the compound helicopter is design with an elliptic airfoil section was inherited from its predecessor
basically the same as that of the helicopter but has additional wings with S-72 X-Wing [61] to simplify the mechanical drive train. However, such
several mounted rotors to allow cruise flight. Further details about the feature leads to the usage of additional lift-canard and enlarged hori-
operation principle can be found in Ref. [56]. Only one of the afore- zontal tail to assist lift generation during the hover-to-cruise conversion.
mentioned dual-system prototypes (HADA) has adopted this configura- To avoid the tail-rotor usage, the X-50 DragonFly applied a complicated
tion in which it performs as a helicopter for takeoff and the transition tip-jet-driven mechanism to the main rotor. The rotation speed is
occurs by unfolding the wings and powering up the pusher [50]. The controlled by the exhaust from a jet engine through thrust nozzles located
project is currently being developed by Embention jointly with INTA at the rotor tips. As for the electrically powered NRL Stop-Rotor aircraft, a
(Spanish National Institute of Aerospace Technology) for the employ- highly complicated drive train which was detailed in Ref. [60], was
ment of the flight control system [57]. Among all sub-types, the compulsorily adopted to pivot the rotor.
quad-rotor configuration prevalently dominates dual-system converti- None of the aforementioned prototypes have succeeded in completing
plane development, given the fact that all the other examples except the transition from the vertical flight mode to the cruise mode. Largely
TU-150 adopt the quad-copter configuration. Such prevalence is mainly due to the inherently too challenging design, both the Sikorsky S-72 X-
due to the desired controllability and attitude stability provided by the Wing project and the Boeing X-50 project have been canceled. However,
“  ” style quad-copter operation in vertical flight mode. Among the four Singapore University of Technology and Design recently developed a
quad-rotor dual-system UAVs, the Quadcruiser and the Arcturus further rotor-wing hybrid UAV called THOR with a tailless flying wing config-
share the same tandem-wing design feature, whereas the Hybrid Quad- uration and a single-axis rotor [62]. As shown in Fig. 7, the UAV
copter and the SLT VTOL UAV adopt conventional fixed-wing fuselage completed a full envelope flight including transition to and from cruise
with either T-tail or V-tail. Several representative dual-system UAVs mode. Although controllers were only implemented for cruise and hover
demonstrated the flight capacity over the full envelope which indicates flights, this work can be considered a breakthrough in advances in this
the practicality of quad-rotor dual-system UAVs [52,54,58]. On the other branch with further development of the modeling dynamics, design pa-
hand, TU-150 is the only bi-rotor dual-system UAV that has been found in rameters and control strategies to be implemented.
our survey. Two three-blade rotors are adopted and mounted on the tips
of the wings. For sufficient lift generation, the rotor size is significantly 2.2. Tail-sitter
enlarged. The rotor radius is over 30% of the wing-span based on the
current prototype. For now, the authors have found poor resources on The other type of hybrid UAV is the tail-sitter which takes-off and
flight demonstration on TU-150. The feasibility of implementing such lands vertically on its tail and the entire airframe tilts to achieve cruise
design methodology is still questionable. flight. Such intuitive configuration is traced back to the 1950s, when two
pioneering trials on manned tail-sitter aircraft, XFY-1 [63] developed by
2.1.4. Rotor-wing Convair shown in Fig. 1(d) and XFV-1 [10] developed by Lockheed
The fourth type of the convertiplane UAVs, named rotor-wing or stop- shown in Fig. 1(e), occurred. With the increasing maturity and cost
rotor, employs a rotary wing that spins to provide lift during vertical reduction of miniature UAV development over the last two decades, this
flight and stops to act like a fixed-wing during cruise flight. Such design concept was commonly adopted in developing tactical UAVs. Based on
methodology was initially exploited by Sikorsky Aircraft [7] in devel- the transition mechanism, these tail-sitter UAVs can be classified into
oping their first manned rotor-wing prototype (a modified Sikorsky S-72 three sub-types: 1) Mono Thrust Transitioning (MTT), 2) Collective
integrated with X-Wing composite blades shown in Fig. 1(c)). Later, it Thrust Transitioning (CTT), and 3) Differential Thrust Transitioning
was only researched by Boeing and Naval Research Laboratory in (DTT).
designing two rotor-wing UAVs, that is, X-50 DragonFly [59] and NRL

A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

Fig. 7. Rotor-wing UAV (THOR) flight test [62].

2.2.1. Mono Thrust Transitioning (MTT) capacity when operating in fixed-wing mode. The third and most risky
MTT tail-sitter UAVs usually employ a single rotor located either at issue is that, due to the single rotor configuration, the hover-to-cruise
the nose or at the rear side of the aircraft fuselage for thrust generation. transition is commonly achieved via a Stall-and-Tumble procedure
The transition to and from cruise flight is usually achieved via vectored (illustrated in Refs. [67,68]) during which control loss could easily occur.
thrust, ducted fan vanes, cyclic or variable blade pitch propeller or Consequently, few trajectories were proposed to mitigate the steep alti-
swashplates. Four representative cases shown in Fig. 8 and identified in tude loss by introducing trajectory-optimization techniques as in Refs.
our survey include 1) SkyTote [64] developed by AeroVironment, 2) [69–72]. To date, the development of the MTT tail-sitter UAVs is still in
Flexrotor [65] developed by Aerovel Cooperation, 3) V-Bat [15] devel- an immature stage and no traces on mass production and remarkable
oped by MartinUAV, and 4) Hybrid tail-sitter UAV [66] developed at implementations were recorded. Lastly, some effort on developing
KAIST Flight Dynamics and Control Laboratory (FDCL). Despite falling miniature MTT tail-sitter UAVs are identified in some academic work
into the same category, the methods of realizing attitude stabilization at such as [73] but the results presented are only limited to conceptual
hover are rather different. More specifically, SkyTote features the usage design.
of a co-axial rotor for thrust generation and automatic yawing torque
cancellation in vertical flight. A sophisticated control scheme involving 2.2.2. Collective Thrust Transitioning (CTT)
rotor spin speed, 3 blade pitch, aileron collective and cyclic pitch, and CTT tail-sitter UAVs are usually equipped with single or multiple
stabilizer (located at the cruciform tail) collective and cyclic pitch, was fixed-pitch non-cyclic blade rotors. The transition between the vertical
developed for attitude control. Flexrotor generates thrust via a rotor with and cruise flight modes is realized mainly via the deflection of various
variable blade pitch. The rolling and pitching movements are realized by control surfaces coupled with collectively increased or decreased thrust.
cyclically changing the rotor's blade pitch. A novel anti-yawing mecha- Although the usage of multiple rotors increases the control freedom and
nism is adopted by Flexrotor: two tiny rotors are installed at the wing tips can consequently outperform the MTT tail-sitter UAVs, only two CTT tail-
with opposite orientations to counter the yawing torque generated by the sitter prototypes achieved remarkable progress in terms of platform
main rotor. As for the V-Bat and FDCL's tail-sitter UAV, a shrouded design, that is, the T-Wing prototype developed by the University of
ducted-fan installed at the rear side of the fuselage is employed to Sydney and the VD200 developed by China's Chengdu Aircraft Research
generate thrust. The deflection of the ducted-fan's vanes is controlled and Design Institute (CARDI). Both of them fall into miniature UAV
individually and further combined to achieve desired attitude change category, and adopt twin-rotor and fixed-pitch blade configurations. The
[66]. Besides, control surfaces such as aileron and/or canard also research on the T-Wing is a pioneer work conducted in the academia that
contribute to a small portion of moment generation. Generally speaking, explores the potential of applying CTT tail-sitter UAVs into defense and
designing a functional MTT tail-sitter UAV, compared with other hybrid civilian missions [74,75]. This prototype features a conventional
aircraft, is indeed more challenging, and the complexity can be sum- low-wing airplane configuration with assistance from a pair of lifting
marized in the following three aspects. First, the size, airfoil selection, canards and flight trials over the full envelope have been successfully
and blade pitch control of the rotor must be carefully determined to cover conducted [76]. As for the VD200, the flying-wing fuselage design was
a fairly wide range of thrust generation that is suitable for both vertical chosen, which, in principle, can result in an enhanced payload capacity
and cruise flight modes. Secondly, slender wing design with relatively and eliminate the Stall-and-Tumble procedure [77]. However, no
high aspect ratio is commonly adopted by MTT tail-sitter UAVs to flight-test record is archived in the literature for this platform as a proof
minimize the disturbance caused by cross wind during vertical flight. of the aforementioned claim. Like the MTT tail-sitter UAVs, the devel-
However, such configuration poses an inherent limitation to the payload opment of the CTT UAVs is also still in an immature stage and no traces

Fig. 8. Representative examples of MTT tail-sitter UAVs.

A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

on mass production and remarkable implementations were recorded.

No systematic work found in

Some academic work such as [78,79] developed miniature CTT tail-sitter
UAVs but the results presented are only limited to either conceptual

design such as in Ref. [79] or preliminary implementation level such as



the literature

2.2.3. Differential Thrust Transitioning (DTT)

A primary design feature of DTT tail-sitter UAVs is that partial rotors
are installed above and below the vehicle's horizontal plane. The dif-
ferential change of these rotors' thrust generates a pitching torque and

Unstable vertical flight, Low cruising speed, complex control systems, Low payload capacity, Low

Reduced efficiency in horizontal flight, Sufficient differential thrust to be provided, Vulnerable to

further leads to the mode transition. Our survey has found that six UAV

Unsuccessful previous attempts, complex transition mechanism, unstable due to single rotor
Vulnerable to cross winds, Difficult to land in moving decks, Heavy and powerful actuators
platforms shown in Fig. 10 belong to this category, including: ATMOS-

Unstable vertical flight, Difficult to land in moving decks, Strong tail landing mechanisms
UAV developed by ATMOS [80], VertiKUL developed by the University
of Luvine [81], Project Wing developed by Google X [82,83], Heliwing
developed by Boeing [84], two RC-fan-developed prototype X PlusOne

Poor aerodynamic performance, Structural complexities, Actuators required

[14]and QuadShot [85,86]. It is until the last decade that the DTT
tail-sitter UAV gained significantly enhanced popularity, which is mainly

required, Vulnerable to cross winds, Difficult to land in moving decks

due to the rapid maturity and prevalence of miniature multi-rotor aerial
vehicles and the potential of embedding the multi-rotor concept into the
fixed-wing aircraft design for enhanced capacity and endurance. The

Extra unnecessary weight, Very few examples in industry

resulting hybrid UAVs inspired by such intensive interest ended up
sharing several key design similarities such as 1) flying wing for high
payload and 2) quad-rotor configuration for structural simplicity.

cross winds, Difficult to land in moving decks

Compared with the CTT type, DTT UAVs have two distinguished ad-
vantages: 1) no involvement of control surfaces in VTOL operation, and

Advantages and Disadvantages of the types of hybrid UAVs and the corresponding Representative Modeling and Control Work (RMCW).
2) enhanced thrust-to-weight ratio. According to our survey, all the
aforementioned DTT UAVs have four rotors to provide differential thrust
to make the transition to horizontal flight and back. However, ATMOS
and Quadshot have control surfaces or tilting rotors for control during
horizontal flight unlike VertiKUL which depends on differential thrust to
control the aircraft in all modes as well as performing the transition. Both
ways seem to operate well in both flight modes but those using the

control surfaces during horizontal flight require extra actuators to control

the ailerons, rudders and elevators which increases the weight of the required

aircraft. On the other hand, VertiKUL requires more complex control

strategies since it only uses differential thrust for control in both modes.
Consequently, further development of the parameter selections and

No extra actuators, Controllability and stability, Common in Research and Industry, Various
No extra actuators, Efficient forward flight, High Cruising speed, Various design options for
control approaches are being carried as illustrated in Refs. [87,88]. The
Controllability and stability, Easy takeoff and landing, Various design options for wing
Good aerodynamic performance, Common in Research and Industry, Simple transition

authors found few technical information on the other aforementioned

Controllability and Stability, Common in Research, Easy takeoff and landing, Simple

DTT tail-sitter UAVs.

Table 1 summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of each type of
the hybrid UAVs.

3. Flight dynamics modeling and control

A reliable model that accurately captures the flight dynamics over the
design options for wing geometry, Easy takeoff and landing

flight envelope of interest is critically important for developing the

autonomous flight control system. For the hybrid UAVs, the flight en-
wing geometry, Common in Research and Industry

velope can be generally divided into three modes, namely, vertical flight
mode, transition mode, and level flight mode. As a result, developing a
reliable flight dynamics model becomes more challenging compared with
geometry, Simple transition mechanism
Easy takeoff and landing, Lightweight

any conventional aircraft.

Depending on the specific type of the hybrid UAV as well as the
specified missions, the orientation kinematics can be expressed via two
No extra actuators required

formulations, namely, Euler angles and Quaternion. Generally, Euler

angle representation dominates the convertiplanes and single mode (e.g.,
transition mechanism

hover or cruise with constant speed) of partial tail-sitters because the

fuselage does not change with large amplitude. On the other hand, the
tail-sitters operating over full flight envelope commonly adopt quater-


nion representations because the transition between hover and level

flight modes leads to approximately 90-degree pitch angle change which
has a high chance to raise the singularity of Euler-angle representation.
According to our survey, Newton-Euler formulation is commonly adop-



ted to represent the rigid body dynamics of hybrid UAVs. However, only
Table 1





few research works (i.e. [118–120,125]) adopt Euler Lagrange formu-

lation without highlighting the particular reason for their selection.

A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

Regarding the propulsion system of hybrid UAVs, two coupled sub The main and most critical part of the control systems is the control
components (i.e., the propeller aerodynamics and the motor dynamics) law which can be classified into linear and nonlinear. As previously
are involved. For the former, the majority of the modeling works adopt mentioned, hybrid UAV models are nonlinear but are commonly linear-
highly simplified dynamics model which involves very fundamental ized by applying relative equilibrium conditions around a steady state
aerodynamic analysis. For instance, in Refs. [110] and [114] only operating point allowing the implementation of linear controllers.
quasi-steady equations are utilized to model the aerodynamic forces and However, although linear control laws are simple, easy to implement,
moments. For the latter, no research work has particularly paid attention reduce the computational effort and minimize the design time but their
to the motor dynamics. Thus, the response of propulsion systems to the performance degrade when operating away from the local equilibrium
actuator input is assumed instantaneous. Particularly for the case of point or while performing agile maneuvers. This is very critical during
hybrid UAVs, the motor dynamics might have a significant effect during the transition flight for the case of hybrid UAVs because changing from
the transition phase and therefore it should be studied intensively. vertical flight mode to horizontal flight mode and vice versa results in
The transition mode requires careful attention from the modeling operation far away from the relative equilibrium condition. That is the
aspect due to two reasons. Firstly, the sources of required lift change. The reason behind which some current hybrid UAVs implement nonlinear
lift in vertical flight comes from the thrust generated by the rotors controllers or three separate linear controllers, one for the horizontal
whereas the lift in horizontal flight comes from the aerodynamics of the mode, one for the vertical mode and one for the transition. From the
wings and tails. Secondly, due to the change in UAV's configuration, the survey conducted, it was found that the classical Proportional-Integral-
direction of some of the forces changes accordingly. For example during Derivative (PID) controller and the Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR)
transition of tilt-rotor or tilt-wing, the direction of the thrust from the are the most common linear control laws applied in hybrid UAVs while
tilting rotors changes during the transition phase and therefore it should the gain-scheduling, back-stepping, and Nonlinear Dynamic Inversion
be modeled appropriately. (NDI) are the common nonlinear laws. Table 2 shows a summary of the
As introduced in Section 2, the tilting mechanism uniquely belongs to control laws with their advantages, disadvantages and implementations
two types of convertiplane UAVs: tilt-rotor and tilt-wing. Similar to the on different types of hybrid UAVs [127–129].
propeller aerodynamics part, the current tilt-rotor and tilt-wing modeling From the review, it was found that the PID controller gain values were
works adopt highly simplified models to account for the tilting motion of mostly determined by empirical tuning until some preconceived ideal
the propulsion systems. For instance, a common method has been response of the system is achieved. Since PID control strategy only re-
documented in Refs. [29,89,101] in which two instantaneous shaft tilting quires appropriate adjustment of the control gains, it serves as a concrete
angles, αL and αR , are defined for the rotation of the left and right front starting design point for many hybrid UAVs as it does not require
propulsion systems and the tilting motion is reflected by a rotation matrix extensive knowledge of the model. Regarding nonlinear controllers, it
based on the tilting angles defined. Given the configuration of the was found that gain-scheduling was mainly utilized to enhance the
dual-system UAVs, no specialized modeling for the transition phase is control during transition and back-stepping method was mostly coupled
required because the transition to and from cruise flight is achieved by with using Euler-Lagrange approach for the dynamic modeling. There are
operating directed rotors accordingly. No systematic transition phase several other control laws implemented in the hybrid UAVs [66,91,113].
modeling has been documented for rotor-wing UAVs. On the other hand, apply adaptive control techniques which account for the nonlinearities
the tail sitters are viewed differently since no specialized mechanisms are and uncertainties present in the model. J.A. Guerrero et al. [112] pre-
employed for achieving the transition. The UAV does not change its sents a robust control design based on sliding mode of a mini birotor
configuration and therefore no extra modeling parameters are required. tail-sitter for the hovering mode. The work in Ref. [130] shows the
Instead, certain control strategies have to be employed in order to ach- control of hovering flight and vertical landing using optical flow. Fault
ieve a safe transition to and from cruise flight. These strategies are dis- tolerant flight control system for a tilt-rotor UAV was discussed by S. Park
cussed later in this section. et al. in Ref. [100]. Moreover, other control strategies based on Lyapunov
The core of the control system depends on the derived dynamics stability concepts can be found in Refs. [93,99,118–120].
model. Particularly speaking, the dynamics of the hybrid UAVs, which is The last column of Table 1 provides a complete list of the documen-
highly complicated and nonlinear, can be inherently unstable because it tations related to the dynamics modeling and flight control systems of
inherits the operation of a fixed-wing and VTOL UAVs. Even if horizontal hybrid UAVs following the categorization method introduced in Section
and vertical modes are analyzed separately, the transition phase remains 2. According to the review conducted, no systematic modeling or control
a critical part of the control system due to the multiple nonlinearities in work on dual-system hybrid UAVs have been documented in the litera-
the model. ture. The remaining part of this section will focus on analyzing some

Table 2
Control Laws Classification of the hybrid UAVs.
Control Law Advantages Disadvantages Tilt- Tilt- Rotor- MTT CTT DTT
Rotor Wing wing

PID Easy implantation, very common control scheme Poor robust ability compared with the [26,29, [46,47, [62] [66,71, [116,118, [81,
design in real life applications, does not require robust controller when the system 91,92] 103, 107, 122–124] 126]
the knowledge of the UAV model encounters to multiple challenges, not 104] 109,
optimal solution 111]
LQR Handles complex dynamic systems and multiple Requires access to the full state which [97, [39,47] – [108] [117,124] –
actuators, robust w.r.t process uncertainty, is not always possible 100]
asymptotically stable for controllable systems,
very large stability margins to errors in the loop
Backstepping Very robust for external disturbances and Not optimal, computationally [90,93, – – – [113] –
irregular parameter uncertainties, deals with all expensive for operation in real time 98,99,
the states of the system and accounts for the 101]
Gain- Allows easy understanding and simple computationally expensive for – [104] – [71] [116,117, –
Scheduling implementation of the control laws over the full operation in real time 124]
flight envelope
NDI Closed loops can be easily tuned Requires a precise knowledge of the [89] – – [66,72] – –
aerodynamic coefficients

A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

unique features of the work given in Table 1. issue by treating the equations of motion as inner and outer loop states
and inputs. The inner loop, which uses SDRE control, considers the
3.1. Tilt-rotor rotational and translational velocities and the outer loop considers the
Euler angle kinematics. Simulation results showed that the system suc-
Starting with the tilt-rotor hybrid UAVs, most of the works (e.g. [29, cessfully controls the tilt duct but experimental verification should follow
89,90,101], for bi-rotor convertiplane [91,96], for tri-rotor converti- [98]. and [90] synthesized a nonlinear controller based on back-stepping
plane, and [93] for quad-rotor convertiplane) employ highly simplified control strategy. Both works showed simulations which indicate the
motor dynamics and tilting mechanisms to minimize the complexity of stability and operability of the control system. However, no experimental
the overall model. An exception that can be treated as a benchmark is the validation was carried out [89]. presented a control strategy for the
modeling work documented in Ref. [96], in which a fairly complete flight transition mode based on the dynamic inversion technique using refer-
dynamics model for a bi-rotor convertiplane has been proposed. The ence model tracking to linearize the system and extended state observer
propulsion system is modeled in depth by introducing additional coor- to compensate for external disturbances. Simulations showed that the
dinate systems (such as Nacelle axis system, hub-axis system, and blade method is robust and the conversion can be controlled successfully but
axis system) and including the flapping motion of the propellers. again, the control strategy was not verified experimentally.
Furthermore, the aerodynamics of the control surfaces and fuselage are Only two works [92], and [91], demonstrated the control of Tri-rotor
carefully determined via variety of wind-tunnel experiments. Model tilt-rotor UAV. Regarding [91], although a PD controller was sufficient
validation in both time- and frequency-domains is presented and the for altitude control but PID was used to ensure safe flight and another PID
results indicate the relative high fidelity of the proposed model. In controller was also implemented for attitude control. Moreover, an
another work documented in Ref. [94], the essential role of the wind adaptive control using neural network was used to enable the adapt-
tunnel usage in determining various aerodynamic coefficients is clearly ability of control gains of the PID controller which therefore minimizes
demonstrated via both large amount of data and model validation results. the position error. This unique strategy was only demonstrated in
Instead of using the experimental results collected in the wind-tunnel, the Ref. [91] and it was shown by simulations using MATLAB that the pro-
authors of [33,95] have explored the possibility of using CFD to deter- posed strategy can be implemented in reality. For [92], the system was
mine the aerodynamic coefficients for a 0.15-scale MV-22 bi-rotor linearized around its hovering point and PID controllers were imple-
convertiplane and a custom-built tri-rotor convertiplane TURAC respec- mented for the same reasons as [29]. However, no experimental verifi-
tively. Validation results have also been presented in Ref. [95] to prove cation was found for both Tri-rotors.
the efficiency of the CFD-based estimation. It is vital to mention that the Regarding Quad tilt-rotors, Flores and Lozano worked on the transi-
use of wind tunnels, CFD techniques or any other method for aero- tion flight control of a Quad tilt-rotor from hover to level flight [93,99].
dynamics modeling is subject to several factors such as project funding, They have proposed, designed and simulated a nonlinear back-stepping
particular interest, etc. approach for the attitude dynamics and tilting mechanism and nested
Most of the works reviewed about tilt-rotors concerned the control saturation control approach for altitude and velocity control. In Ref. [99],
systems of bi-rotors (e.g. Refs. [26,29,89,90,97,98]) since the bi-rotor is they have completed the work in Ref. [93] by adding the pitch dynamics.
an underactuated system in hover mode where there are only four ac- Level to hover flight control and experimental verification are required in
tuators for six degrees of freedom. In Ref. [29], which presents the the next phase. Apart from that, a very unique work presented by Park
experimental attitude control of UPAT tilt-rotor prototype shown in and his colleagues in Ref. [100] shows a proposal for a fault control
Fig. 3(e), the model was linearized about the hovering point and PID scheme for the actuator and sensor faults for the tilt-rotor UAV system.
loops were utilized for controlling the system because of the simplicity in An LQR controller that makes the Euler angles track the desired com-
terms of implementation at high frequency rates using an embedded mand values was applied for actuator faults and a fault detection and
microprocessor and the requirement of high bandwidth and zero steady isolation algorithm and a fault tolerant federated Kalman filter were
state error. It was noted in Ref. [29] that a Proportional-Derivative (PD) presented for the sensor faults. Numerical simulations carried out on the
controller will lead to system stability as well but a simple Proportional linearized model in the airplane mode only showed the effectiveness and
(P) controller will not because of the inherent underactuated critically robustness of the scheme. However, simulations for others modes and
unstable dynamics. Moreover, to minimize noise from attitude rate experimental verification should follow.
measurements and improve the performance of the PID controller a
Low-Pass filter with time being constant was convoluted with the de- 3.2. Tilt-wing
rivative term in Ref. [29]. Experimental verification was done for the
hovering mode but yet to be done for level flight and transition [26]. Compared with tilt-rotor hybrid UAVs, less interest in modeling and
presents another work related to the control of a bi-rotor shown in control of tilt-wing hybrid UAVs has been observed. Furthermore [47,49,
Fig. 3(b) where the attitude control was done by an inner and an outer 102], are based on an identical custom-built miniature tandem tilt-wing
feedback control loop. The objective of the inner loop, which considers hybrid UAV and only one modeling work [39] on single tilt-wing hybrid
angular rates as the controlled variables, is to decouple the system and UAV has been found. All the proposed models adopt Euler-angle
improve the frequency response and stability characteristics by adopting expression, Newton-Euler formulation, and highly simplified motor dy-
state feedback combining the compensable matrix, whereas, the outer namics and tilting mechanisms [39]. shows the control concept of a
loop, which targets the attitude control, focuses on the control quality of single wing tilt-wing hybrid UAV called AVIGLE shown in Fig. 5(b). Their
the controlled variables based on Proportional-Integral (PI) control. control system contained three different controllers, one for the hori-
Experiment tests verified that the linearization trim control point was zontal mode (consisting of P and PI sub-controllers), one for the vertical
valid and the control law testing is yet to be done [26]. Following the mode (consisting of P, PI and PID sub-controllers) and one for the tran-
work presented in Refs. [131] and [132] which demonstrate the concept sition mode where the horizontal speed controllers of the vertical mode
design study and the flight control of a tilt duct UAV showing that the sub-controllers are deactivated and the cruise control is assigned to the
system is overactuated with redundant controls and is unstable in con- transition control. Also, a supervisor controller is proposed to decide the
version mode, a State Dependent Riccati Equation (SDRE) control law, activation of the controllers and sub-controllers. Several simulation tests
which is considered as an improved LQR, was studied for the imple- were carried out and the concept was satisfactory but no hardware test
mentation in the tilt duct UAV in Ref. [97]. The controller proposed is was performed yet. Regarding tandem tilt-wing UAVs, the control of
nonlinear and does not require the linearization of the system but it re- SUAVI shown in Fig. 5(g) is demonstrated in Refs. [47,103] where [47]
quires that the system remains controllable with the appropriate choice shows the simulation of LQR based position control for vertical flight and
of the state factorization used. Tekinalp and his colleagues avoided this [103] shows the hierarchical control system design and vertical flight

A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

experiments implementing a PD controller, both where successful. ducted-fan design code is employed to account for the unique duct fan
Transition control and Horizontal control are yet to be done and verified feature of the custom-made MTT developed at the KAIST shown in
experimentally. Fig. 8(d) and a Navier-Stokes solver integrated into the FLUENT toolkit is
used to determine aerodynamic control coefficients. In another two
3.3. Rotor-wing documentations [113,115] based on a miniature CTT hybrid UAV
developed at BYU, aerodynamic coefficients are determined by maxi-
Only two research works [62], and [105,106], were found regarding mally matching the flight test data collected in experiments. Furthermore
the modeling and control of rotor-wing UAVs. Both implemented a [113], also addresses a technique of modeling the angular dynamics as a
simplified model of the rotor-wing dynamics implementing rotation combination of one bias acceleration term and one actuator-based input
matrices and Newton-Euler formulations [105,106]. presented and term which aims at reducing the computational load of physical
analyzed a combination of linear and nonlinear control methods for the parameter estimation. Moreover [117,121], additionally considered
hovering flight of the rotor-wing where the linear control (LQR) works motor dynamics aiming at covering the key dynamic features of the CTT
when operating close to the equilibrium point and a Lyapunov approach proposed model. Validation results and analysis are again rarely
based nonlinear controller was implemented to achieve global stability. addressed with the exception of [108,110]. In Ref. [108], identification
No experimental tests were carried out to verify the model and flight results for the longitudinal motions are provided and in Ref. [110], a
control fidelity. In Ref. [62] which is employed for the hybrid UAV called comparison between the model responses and actual experimental data is
THOR shown in Fig. 7, the cruise and hover modes were modeled conducted where non-ignorable deviations have been observed for all
separately and tests were conducted to verify the model using PID channels which indicates that the model accuracy can be further
controller for the cruise mode and P controller for the hover mode. enhanced.
However, each test was carried out for a single mode, therefore, the full The transition is usually achieved by what is known as stall-and-
envelope model verification is yet to be done. Because of their unique- tumble maneuver or optimal trajectory. However, an alternative ma-
ness, these works can be considered as a benchmark in this sub-category; neuver (Continuous ascent) was demonstrated by Refs. [71] and [72] for
however, more accurate modeling and control techniques are to be MTT tail-sitters where in Ref. [72] they developed a dynamic inversion
further employed. control law and consistent simulations were done and in Ref. [71] they
used those simulations to determine several design points for interme-
3.4. Mono Thrust Transitioning (MTT) and Collective Thrust Transitioning diate PID controllers which are linked using gain-scheduling. In addition
(CTT) to that, the development and application of an adaptive controller which
can track the desired attitude despite the uncertainties and unexpected
A number of research works on MTTs and CTTs have been carried out variations was presented. The designed controller was tested by the MTT
and documented in the literature. Part of them only focuses on vertical tail-sitter prototype for hovering flight only. However, it was verified
flight mode and attitude stabilization. For instance [109,111,112,122], experimentally using a testbed tail-sitter UAV which entered level flight
show the hovering control strategies for MTT tail-sitters whereas autonomously and then the transition controller was activated to make
[118–120,125] focused on the hovering control and attitude stabilization the transition from level flight to hover and back. Moreover, the control
of bi-rotor CTT tail-sitters. Although Newton-Euler formulation was architecture of the V-Bat MTT tail-sitter shown in Fig. 8(c) is demon-
commonly adopted but [118–120,125] which present the development strated in Ref. [107] where separate controllers are applied for each
of two types of bi-rotor CTTs considered Euler-Lagrange formulation for mode, namely, hover, level, level to hover and hover to level. One issue
modeling their dynamics. As attitude stabilization in hover mode is the with their proposed controller is that their transition controller does not
focus, Euler angle instead of quaternion is commonly used for more minimize the altitude error. Currently, their control system is being
straightforward attitude representation. In Refs. [109,111,116,118], the implemented in hardware. In Ref. [113], the complete flight envelope of
system was linearized about the hovering point and PID controllers were the CTT tail-sitter is illustrated in which an adaptive quaternion
used because of their good performance and easy implementation and controller using the back-stepping method was designed based on regu-
regulation for attitude stabilization (roll, pitch and yaw). Given the dif- larized date-weighted recursive least squares parameter estimation al-
ficulty of adjustment for big and complicated systems such as the MTT or gorithm enabling the controller to adapt to the rapid changing dynamics.
CTT tail-sitters, several research works adopted modified control laws for The control strategy was tested experimentally which makes this work
attitude stabilization during hover flight. In Ref. [122], two control considered as one of the benchmarks in the control of single-rotor CTT
strategies, quaternion feedback control and resolved Tilt-Twist Angle tail-sitters. Moreover, few research works [117,123,124], investigated
Feedback control, were applied to the PID controller and experimental the control of transition phase of bi-rotor CTT tail-sitters. More specif-
tests were carried out and each strategy was evaluated accordingly [112]. ically [117], and [123] have developed separate controllers for different
implemented a control law based on the sliding mode control technique modes of flight (vertical, horizontal, horizontal to vertical, etc..) where
which is applied to stabilize the decoupled attitude control systems they have set linearization operating points for each controller (LQR for
[119]. demonstrated a control scheme based on saturations to achieve [117] and PID for [123]) and simulated their control strategies suc-
stability of the CTT by studying lateral, longitudinal and axial dynamics cessfully but the control laws were not implemented on any platform. A
separately for simplicity. All works presented valid simulations for their nonlinear control law was also studied in Ref. [117] and it was concluded
control strategies; however, with the exception of [109,116,119,122], no that both, the linear and nonlinear control laws, were feasible for the
other work verified their control design experimentally. control of the tail-sitter; however, this is without taking into account the
The transition of tail-sitters from vertical flight to horizontal flight wind disturbances, sensor noise and experimental implementation.
and back attracted researchers' interests as several works investigated the Stone, the main developer of T-wing shown in Fig. 9(a), considered the
modeling and control methods of tail-sitters covering the full envelope; control architecture of his tail-sitter by analyzing separate control stra-
that is, hover, transition, and level flight. More specifically [71, tegies for vertical flight (using gain-scheduling LQR technique), hori-
107–110], which concentrate on the modeling of MTT hybrid UAV, and zontal flight (using classical SISO root-locus techniques) and transition
[113–117,121], which concentrate on the modeling of CTT hybrid UAVs, flight (using the horizontal controllers as basis and changing the guid-
adopt 1) quaternion formulation for avoiding the singularity in pitch ance technique) [124]. The T-wing performed fully autonomous vertical
angle expression and 2) simple expression for propulsion systems. In flight but the full envelope flight (including transition and horizontal
order to enhance the accuracy of the proposed model, additional effort flight) is yet to be done.
has been made in some documented works, mainly on motor dynamics
and aerodynamic coefficients determination. For instance, in Ref. [71], a

A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

Fig. 9. Representative examples of CTT tail-sitter UAVs.

Fig. 10. Representative examples of DTT tail-sitter UAVs.

3.5. Differential Thrust Transitioning (DTT) the advantages, disadvantages and the corresponding modeling and
control work of each type of hybrid UAVs. Table 2 highlights the ad-
For DTT, little work on dynamical modeling and control has been vantages and disadvantages of the control laws adopted for hybrid UAVs
documented in the literature, as DTT-based UAV is still a relatively new and their implementation on each type. Throughout this survey, several
topic to the academia and even less systematic research has yet been key observations have been concluded as follows:
conducted. One representative work on DTT dynamics modeling is pre-
sented in Ref. [81], in which a quaternion-based Newton-Euler formu-  The concept of hybrid aerial vehicles has long been investigated by
lation model is proposed for the custom-made quadcopter tail-sitter aeronautical industries for designing and manufacturing manned
named VertiKUL shown in Fig. 10(b). Detailed descriptions of the pa- aircraft to enable a wider range of missions. Many of these trials were
rameters selection and control approaches for VertiKUL followed where not successful. However, with the low-cost of the miniature UAVs,
several components where modeled and the sensitivity of important enhanced control techniques, and the thriving demand of the civilian
parameters is analyzed [87,88]. For its control, PID controllers were and military markets, the concept has regained a huge interest and
adopted for the attitude, velocity and transition stabilization and a increasing popularity as the survey showed plenty of designs
separate specialized controller was implemented for the heading of the featuring the horizontal and vertical flight capabilities together.
vehicle. Flight tests and validations were illustrated leading to a Moreover, many of the prototypes were successful and are docu-
remarkable progress on the advances of this subcategory [126]. is mented in the literature and some others have been commercialized
another work targeting DTT but it focused mainly on power consumption successfully. As an example, manned tail-sitters (i.e. such as the
and energy efficiency instead of the flight control system (which is Convair XFY-1 [9] and Lockheed XFV-1 [10] shown in Fig. 1(e) and
beyond the scope of this article). (f) respectively) did not achieve remarkable success and some pro-
jects in that regard were cancelled mainly because of the control and
4. Key observations, existing challenges and concluding remarks piloting difficulties. This problem is, of course, overcome by the uti-
lization of unmanned tail-sitters which eliminates the need of the
A technical overview of the hybrid UAVs has been provided in this pilot and integrates advanced control techniques to ensure stability
paper. The common platform design types were first categorized fol- and safe transition to and from cruise flight. That is why the authors
lowed by explanation and representative examples of the flight modeling found several Tail-sitter prototypes, many of which were successful.
techniques and the flight control strategies implemented. Table 1 shows

A.S. Saeed et al. Progress in Aerospace Sciences 98 (2018) 91–105

 The convertiplane hybrid UAVs were more dominant than the tail- hybrid UAVs. Similar to the VTOL UAVs, the vertical mode of hybrid
sitters. This is mainly due to the simple mechanism and control, UAVs consumes a high amount of power to keep the UAV airborne. This
smooth transition, and enhanced vertical flight stability of some sub- discharges the batteries quickly and therefore reduces the endurance and
types of the convertiplanes. Furthermore, the most common sub-type range of the hybrid UAV in general. Consequently, some research works
among all the platform designs was the tilt-rotor convertiplane for considered solar powered hybrid UAVs [134] and gasoline-electric
which the authors found plenty of prototypes and, as mentioned hybrid propulsion system [135] as potential solutions to this issue.
earlier, many of which were successfully commercialized. This is Power system optimization and experiments were conducted for the
mainly due to the enhanced controllability and stability, easy takeoff solar-powered tilt-wing UAV in Ref. [134] but successful flight tests are
and landing and simple transition mechanism. required to validate the concept. On the other hand, flight tests were
 The majority of the current modeling work adopts highly simplified carried for the gasoline-electric tilt-rotor UAV in Ref. [135]; however,
models, in which very fundamental motor dynamics and preliminary further testing, modeling and control optimization is still to be done as
or even no aerodynamics for the propeller dynamics are contained. well as a detailed analysis of the enhancement achieved by the novel
Such method mitigates the workload on the dynamics modeling and hybrid propulsion system.
further enables researchers with little aerodynamics background to Given their enhanced popularity and recently gained interest, the
quickly proceed to the stage of flight control law design. However, hybrid UAVs are becoming more mature in terms of many critical aspects
very rare work has addressed the model validation of such simplified such as design philosophy, dynamic modeling and control. As a result, it
model in a systematic manner, which make the utilization of the is expected that they will soon dominate the civilian as well as military
simplified model questionable to a certain level. Furthermore, due to applications. In fact, several research works already considered the
the oversimplification, the accuracy of the developed model has a application of hybrid UAVs for vision-aided tracking in Ref. [136], uti-
high chance to decrease significantly, and may deteriorate the per- lization in dense urban environments in Ref. [137] and for automated
formance of the corresponding control law design. external defibrillator (AED) transport in Ref. [138]. Moreover, the DHL
 The system identification approach, which has been widely utilized parcelcopter is being integrated for parcel delivery in mountainous re-
for deriving dynamic models for both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, gions [42].
is rarely employed for hybrid UAV research. According to [133], a To this end, the hybrid UAVs will have a bright future and will
systematic integration of the system identification approach and the promptly be an essential pillar of the UAV market. The review presented
first-principles modeling (i.e., the method adopted by the current in this paper is expected to be informative to the researchers who are
modeling work listed in Table 1) can generate a high-fidelity dy- interested in the promising hybrid UAV development.
namics model for desired flight conditions or envelopes and can be
reliably utilized in the subsequent control law design. The imple- Acknowledgments
mentation of the aforementioned method on various hybrid UAVs is a
promising trend. The authors would like to thank Khalifa University of Science and
 Very rare work achieved the full autonomy of the hybrid UAV as most Technology and Khalifa University Robotics Institute (KURI) for their
of the works only investigated a single flight mode. For instance, for continuous support and assistance.
the case of tail-sitters, some works addressed the hovering control
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