UAV State Estimation Using Adaptive Complementary Filters

Panos Marantos, Yannis Koveos, Kostas J. Kyriakopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We address the complete state estimation problem of unmanned aerial vehicles, even under high-dynamic 3-D aerobatic maneuvers, while using low-cost sensors with bias variations and higher levels of noise. In such conditions, the control demand, for a robust real-time data fusion filter with minimal lag and noise, is addressed with the efficiency of a complementary filter scheme. First, the attitude is directly estimated in Special Orthogonal Group (SO(3)) by complementing the noisy accelerometer/magnetometer vector basis with a gyro propagated vector basis. Data fusion follows a least square minimization in SO(3) (Wahba's problem) solved in an analytic nonrecursive manner. Stability of the proposed filter is shown and performance metrics are extracted, whereas the computational complexity has been minimized with an appropriate reference frame and a custom singular value decomposition algorithm. An adaptation scheme is proposed to allow unhindered operation of the filter to erroneous inputs introduced by the high dynamics of a 3-D flight. Finally, the velocity/position estimation is mainly constructed by complementary filters combining multiple sensors. In addition to the low complexity and the filtering of the noise, the proposed observer is aided through a developed vision algorithm, enabling the use of the filter in Global-Positioning-System-denied environments. Extensive experimental results and comparative studies with state-of-the-art filters, either in the laboratory or in the field using high-performance autonomous helicopters, demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed scheme in demanding conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7297816
Pages (from-to)1214-1226
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2016


  • Attitude and heading reference system (AHRS)
  • complementary filters
  • sensor fusion
  • SO(3)
  • state estimation
  • unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
  • vision-aided Global Positioning System (GPS)/inertial navigation system (INS)
  • Wahba's solution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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