In this paper, a novel data-driven robust approximate optimal tracking control scheme is proposed for unknown general nonlinear systems by using the adaptive dynamic programming (ADP) method. In the design of the controller, only available input-output data is required instead of known system dynamics. A data-driven model is established by a recurrent neural network (NN) to reconstruct the unknown system dynamics using available input-output data. By adding a novel adjustable term related to the modeling error, the resultant modeling error is first guaranteed to converge to zero. Then, based on the obtained data-driven model, the ADP method is utilized to design the approximate optimal tracking controller, which consists of the steady-state controller and the optimal feedback controller. Further, a robustifying term is developed to compensate for the NN approximation errors introduced by implementing the ADP method. Based on Lyapunov approach, stability analysis of the closed-loop system is performed to show that the proposed controller guarantees the system state asymptotically tracking the desired trajectory. Additionally, the obtained control input is proven to be close to the optimal control input within a small bound. Finally, two numerical examples are used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed control scheme.
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