Journal of Systems Engineering and Electronics ›› 2023, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (6): 1409-1418.doi: 10.23919/JSEE.2023.000140


Nonlinear direct data-driven control for UAV formation flight system

Jianhong WANG1,*(), RAMIREZ-MENDOZA Ricardo A.1(), Yang XU2()   

  1. 1 School of Engineering and Sciences, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey 64849, Mexico
    2 School of Civil Aviation, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an 710072, China
  • Received:2022-11-07 Online:2023-12-18 Published:2023-12-29
  • Contact: Jianhong WANG;;
  • About author:
    WANG Jianhong was born in 1980. He received his M.S. degree in engineering cybernetics from Yunnan University in 2007. In 2011, he received his Ph.D. degree in the College of Automation Engineering from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China. From 2013 to 2015, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the 28th Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation. From June 2016 to September 2016, he was a visiting professor in Informazione Politecnico di Milano. He is currently a professor at Tecnologico de Monterrey. His current research interests include real-time distributed control, optimization, and system identification. E-mail:

    Ricardo A. RAMIREZ-MENDOZA was born in 1967. He received his Ph.D. degree from the Institute National Polytechnique de Grenoble in 1997. He is currently a professor of mechatronics-mechanics and the Dean of Research at the School of Engineering and Science at the Tecnologico de Monterrey. His main research interests include applications of advanced control to automotive systems. He is the (co-)author of three books, more than 80 papers in top journals, more than 200 international conference papers, and more than 1000 citations. E-mail:

    XU Yang was born in 1987. He received his Ph.D. degree from Xiamen University in 2019. From 2019 to 2020, he has been a research fellow in the School of Engineering at Westlake University. He is currently an associate professor at Northwestern Polytechnical University, China. He won several championships in international robot competitions and published more than 40 journal and conference papers. His research interests include control theory and application of multiple robotic systems. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    This work was supported by Natural Science Basic Research Plan in Shaanxi Province of China (2023-JC-QN-0733).


This paper proposes the nonlinear direct data-driven control from theoretical analysis and practical engineering, i.e., unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) formation flight system. Firstly, from the theoretical point of view, consider one nonlinear closed-loop system with a nonlinear plant and nonlinear feed-forward controller simultaneously. To avoid the complex identification process for that nonlinear plant, a nonlinear direct data-driven control strategy is proposed to design that nonlinear feed-forward controller only through the input-output measured data sequence directly, whose detailed explicit forms are model inverse method and approximated analysis method. Secondly, from the practical point of view, after reviewing the UAV formation flight system, nonlinear direct data-driven control is applied in designing the formation controller, so that the followers can track the leader’s desired trajectory during one small time instant only through solving one data fitting problem. Since most natural phenomena have nonlinear properties, the direct method must be the better one. Corresponding system identification and control algorithms are required to be proposed for those nonlinear systems, and the direct nonlinear controller design is the purpose of this paper.

Key words: nonlinear system, nonlinear direct data-driven control, model inverse control, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) formation flight