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Unscented Kalman filter for airship model uncertainties and wind disturbance estimation

Wasim, Muhammad; Ali, Ahsan; Ahmad Choudhry, Mohammad; Saleem, Faisal; Shaikh, Inam Ul Hasan; Iqbal, Jamshed


Muhammad Wasim

Ahsan Ali

Mohammad Ahmad Choudhry

Faisal Saleem

Inam Ul Hasan Shaikh


An airship is lighter than an air vehicle with enormous potential in applications such as communication, aerial inspection, border surveillance, and precision agriculture. An airship model is made up of dynamic, aerodynamic, aerostatic, and propulsive forces. However, the computation of aerodynamic forces remained a challenge. In addition to aerodynamic model deficiencies, airship mass matrix suffers from parameter variations. Moreover, due to the lighter-than-air nature, it is also susceptible to wind disturbances. These modeling issues are the key challenges in developing an efficient autonomous flight controller for an airship. This article proposes a unified estimation method for airship states, model uncertainties, and wind disturbance estimation using Unscented Kalman Filter (UKF). The proposed method is based on a lumped model uncertainty vector that unifies model uncertainties and wind disturbances in a single vector. The airship model is extended by incorporating six auxiliary state variables into the lumped model uncertainty vector. The performance of the proposed methodology is evaluated using a nonlinear simulation model of a custom-developed UETT airship and is validated by conducting a kind of error analysis. For comparative studies, EKF estimator is also developed. The results show the performance superiority of the proposed estimator over EKF; however, the proposed estimator is a bit expensive on computational grounds. However, as per the requirements of the current application, the proposed estimator can be a preferred choice.


Wasim, M., Ali, A., Ahmad Choudhry, M., Saleem, F., Shaikh, I. U. H., & Iqbal, J. (2021). Unscented Kalman filter for airship model uncertainties and wind disturbance estimation. PLoS ONE, 16(11 November), Article e0257849.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 9, 2021
Online Publication Date Nov 5, 2021
Publication Date Nov 1, 2021
Deposit Date Sep 15, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal PLoS ONE
Print ISSN 1932-6203
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 11 November
Article Number e0257849
Keywords Aerodynamics; Kalman filter; Inertia; Covariance; White noise; Nonlinear dynamics; Turbulence; Algorithms
Public URL


Published article (2.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2021 Wasim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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