MSE Research Project Database

Dynamic trajectory optimisation for hypersonic flight vehicles

Project Leader: Chris Manzie
Staff: Iman Shames
Collaborators: University of Queensland
Sponsors: BAE Systems
Primary Contact: Chris Manzie (
Keywords: applied control theory; autonomous systems; fluid dynamics; optimisation; real-time control
Disciplines: Electrical & Electronic Engineering

Aerodynamic uncertainty can be especially prevalent for hypersonic vehicles due to the high heat loads that can lead to deformation or ablation of leading edges. The (inner) control loop in most deployed hypersonic vehicles rely on standard linear control architectures that are incapable of exploiting all the dynamics of the vehicles without significant risk of violating operational constraints. The proposed work will examine the area of optimal trajectory development as a system-wide consideration needed at the mission planning stage as well as the continuous trajectory shaping optimisation required dynamically (in real-time) during flight. It is anticipated that model-based control algorithms will be developed (such as model predictive controllers) that are capable of delivering high control performance and satisfying operational constraints.

This research builds on a previous collaboration between the University of Melbourne and BAE Systems through an Australian Research Council Linkage grant. The joint effort successfully yielded a new methodology for a computationally effective optimisation framework that combines CFD-based estimation of subsonic and supersonic aerodynamics with the flight dynamic models of the plant, to concurrently maximize a ’global’ objective of performance requirements. The concurrent approach in deriving globally optimised solutions through codesign of both the control architecture and the aerodynamic structure, dierentiates it from conventional methods. This co-design philosophy was motivated by the opportunity it brings for risk reduction early in the design phase of complex platform solutions.

As such there are mutliple PhD opportunities available, addressing the research aims of:

  1. To develop near optimal dynamic guidance and navigation systems for mission lifecycles in hypersonic vehicles
  2. To build design tools for the combined aerodynamic-control design problem in hypersonic vehicles

The project will also have significant spillover benefits into other complex system domains, where computational tools can be used to aid in design leading to high embedded-IP products for Australian industry. Furthermore, the proposal encompasses a strong research training aspect, with graduates exposed to leading edge industry and academia.

** Please note that only Australian citizens can be considered as PhD candidates on this project, and top up scholarships will be available.