A helicopter maneuvers naturally in an environment where the execution of the task can easily be affected by atmospheric turbulence, which leads to variations of its model parameters. This paper discusses the nature of the disturbances acting on the helicopter and proposes an approach to counter the effects. The disturbance consists of vertical and lateral wind gusts. A 7-degrees-of-freedom (DOF) nonlinear Lagrangian model with unknown disturbances is used. The model presents quite interesting control challenges due to nonlinearities, aerodynamic forces, under actuation, and its non-minimum phase dynamics. Two approaches of robust control are compared via simulations with a Tiny CP3 helicopter model: an approximate feedback linearization and an active disturbance rejection control using the approximate feedback linearization procedure. Several simulations show that adding an observer can compensate the effect of disturbances. The proposed controller has been tested in a real-time application to control the yaw angular displacement of a Tiny CP3 mini-helicopter mounted on an experiment platform.
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