Model Predictive Contouring Control for Near-Time-Optimal Quadrotor Flight



We tackle the problem of flying time-optimal trajectories through multiple waypoints with quadrotors. State-of-the-art solutions split the problem into a planning task - where a global, time-optimal trajectory is generated - and a control task - where this trajectory is accurately tracked. However, at the current state, generating a time-optimal trajectory that takes the full quadrotor model into account is computationally demanding (in the order of minutes or even hours). This is detrimental for replanning in presence of disturbances. We overcome this issue by solving the time-optimal planning and control problems concurrently via Model Predictive Contouring Control (MPCC). Our MPCC optimally selects the future states of the platform at runtime, while maximizing the progress along the reference path and minimizing the distance to it. We show that, even when tracking simplified trajectories, the proposed MPCC results in a path that approaches the true time-optimal one, and which can be generated in real-time. We validate our approach in the real-world, where we show that our method outperforms both the current state-of-the-art and a world-class human pilot in terms of lap time achieving speeds of up to 60 km/h.

arXiv prepring