(19)
(11)EP 3 443 431 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
10.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/24

(21)Application number: 17715972.0

(22)Date of filing:  28.03.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B64C 13/10(2006.01)
B64C 13/08(2006.01)
B64C 13/12(2006.01)
G05G 7/00(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/GB2017/050863
(87)International publication number:
WO 2017/178791 (19.10.2017 Gazette  2017/42)

(54)

CONTROL SYSTEMS

STEUERUNGSSYSTEME

SYSTÈMES DE COMMANDE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 11.04.2016 GB 201606077

(43)Date of publication of application:
20.02.2019 Bulletin 2019/08

(73)Proprietor: BAE Systems PLC
London SW1Y 5AD (GB)

(72)Inventors:
  • DEE, Justin, Mark
    Rochester Kent ME1 2XX (GB)
  • BEAN, Jason, Howard
    Rochester Kent ME1 2XX (GB)

(74)Representative: BAE SYSTEMS plc Group IP Department 

Farnborough Aerospace Centre Farnborough Hampshire GU14 6YU
Farnborough Aerospace Centre Farnborough Hampshire GU14 6YU (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2015/066219
US-A- 5 446 666
JP-A- H0 191 890
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] This invention relates to control systems and is particularly, though not exclusively, applicable to controls sticks (often referred to as 'inceptors') for aircraft, fixed wing or rotary wing.

    [0002] A typical inceptor is used by a pilot to control pitch and roll of an aircraft and is often used as part of a fly by wire system. The inceptor may move in two axes with a fore and aft movement controlling pitch of the aircraft and a side to side movement controlling roll of the aircraft. In contrast to the classical control stick designs, in which the forces which act on the aircraft during the flight are transmitted to the control stick in the form of resistance and deflection, there is no such feedback in conventional fly-by-wire systems. Modern, passive inceptors have a fixed force feel characteristic provided by springs and dampers. Current active inceptors are provided with control systems which rely on a servo actuator mechanism incorporating force and position sensors and drive motors to permit the force feel characteristic of the inceptor to be modified continuously throughout flight. Document US5,446,666A1 describes an aircraft control system with automatic trim function.

    [0003] According to a first aspect of invention there is provided a control system according with claim 1 for a manually-operated control stick and for enabling the control stick to settle to a trim position when zero force is applied to the control stick by an operator, the control system including:

    a first circuit comprising a summing circuit for a receiving a first signal representative of a force applied to the control stick by an operator and for receiving a second signal representing at least one force feedback signal and arranged to subtract the second signal from the first signal to provide a third signal;

    a second circuit comprising a first integrator circuit for receiving the third signal and arranged to derive a velocity signal therefrom;

    a third circuit comprising a second integrator circuit, having an internal state, for receiving the velocity signal and arranged to generate a position signal therefrom, wherein the second integrator also receives a trim input signal representative of the trim position and is arranged to sum the received trim input signal with its internal state to generate the position signal; and

    a fourth circuit, containing a predetermined force-position mapping characteristic, for receiving a position signal from the second integrator and the trim input signal and arranged to, when no trimming operation is required, extract a force value corresponding to the received position signal from the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic and output a force feedback signal to the first circuit representative of the extracted force value, and when a trimming operation is required, to modify the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic by shifting the position values in the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic by an amount equal to the trim position represented by the received trim input signal, and select a force value corresponding to a received position signal from the modified force-position mapping characteristic and output a force feedback signal representative of the selected force value to the first circuit.



    [0004] The trim input signal may be a difference in trim point from a last iteration.

    [0005] In a preferred embodiment, the third circuit includes a limiter circuit for limiting a magnitude of the position signal. The provision of such a limiter circuit may ensure that the generated position signal is not so high as to cause the control stick mechanism to go past its hard mechanical limits.

    [0006] According to a second aspect of the invention there is provided method for controlling a manually-operated control stick and for enabling the control stick to settle to a trim position when zero force is applied to the control stick by an operator, the method including:

    receiving a first signal representative of a force applied to the control stick by an operator, receiving a second signal representing at least one force feedback signal, subtracting the second signal from the first signal to provide a third signal;

    receiving the third signal and deriving a velocity signal therefrom;

    receiving the velocity signal at an integrator having an internal state and summing a received trim input signal representative of the trim position with said internal state and generating a position signal;

    and receiving at a circuit containing a predetermined force-position mapping characteristic, the position signal and the trim input signal and, when no trimming operation is required, extracting a force value corresponding to the received position signal from the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic and outputting a force feedback signal representative of the extracted force value, and when a trimming operation is required, modifying the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic by shifting the position values in the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic by an amount equal to the trim position represented by the received trim input signal, and selecting a force value corresponding to a received position signal from the modified force-position mapping characteristic and outputting a force feedback signal representative of the selected force value.



    [0007] Advantageously, a control system and method according to the invention enables a control stick to settle to a trim position or zero force null point, while the operator is performing a trimming operation, without introducing any perceptible vibration or 'buzzing' of the control stick during the adjustment period.

    [0008] According to a fourth aspect of the invention, there is provided a tangible computer program product having an executable computer program code stored thereon for execution by a processor to perform methods in accordance with the invention.

    [0009] The tangible computer program product may comprise at least one from a group consisting of: a hard disk, a CD-ROM, an optical storage device, a magnetic storage device, a Read Only Memory, a Programmable Read Only Memory, an Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory, an Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory and a Flash memory.

    [0010] Other aspects of the invention comprise an inceptor system including a control stick and a control system in accordance with the first embodiment and an aircraft incorporating such an inceptor system.

    [0011] These and other aspects, features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from, and elucidated with reference to, the embodiments described hereinafter.

    [0012] Further details, aspects and embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the drawings. Elements in the figures are illustrated for simplicity and clarity and have not necessarily been drawn to scale. Like reference numerals have been included in the respective drawings to ease understanding.

    Figure 1 is a simplified, schematic block diagram showing an example of inceptor system;

    Figure 2 is a simplified schematic block diagram of an example of control system without trim input;

    Figure 3 is graph showing a force-position mapping characteristic;

    Figure 4 is simplified schematic block diagram of an example of control system with trim input in accordance with an embodiment of the invention; and

    Figure 5 is graph showing a force-position mapping characteristic shifted to account for a trim position.



    [0013] Figure 1 shows a schematic block diagram of an inceptor system 100 which is coupled to a flight control system 101, both systems being incorporated in an aircraft 102. An inceptor 103 is coupled to a suitable two degree of freedom assembly 104 that permits the inceptor 103 to be moved in fore and aft and side to side directions. Conventionally, a fore and aft movement of the inceptor 103 controls pitch of the aircraft and a side to side movement of the inceptor controls roll of the aircraft. The inceptor 103 includes a manual grip 105 on which is mounted a trim switch 106. The trim switch can be moved (by an operator, using the thumb, for example) in side to side and fore and aft directions in order to trim roll and pitch respectively.

    [0014] As is conventional, the inceptor system 100 may supply signals representative of aircraft pitch and roll commands to the flight control system 101. Such aircraft commands may be derived using suitable devices and techniques. Generally, such commands are related to the angular position of the inceptor 103. In the example of Figure 1, a position sensor assembly 107 is coupled to the inceptor 103 and detects angular displacement of the inceptor 103 in both fore and aft and side to side directions. The position sensor assembly 107 supplies signals to the flight control system 101 which in turn provides control signals on output line 108 to actuators controlling the flying surfaces of the aircraft 102 and also supplies a position signal to a motor control system 109. The flight control system 101 also receives trim input signals on line at 110 from the trim switch 106 and provides an output signal (Delta trim) to a control system 111. The delta trim signal is a trim position signal which is the difference in a trim point (in pitch or roll) from the last iteration running in the flight control system 101

    [0015] A force sensor 112 is also provided and coupled to the inceptor 103 for sensing an input force applied to the inceptor 103 by the pilot. An output from the force sensor is supplied to the control system 111. The control system 111 outputs position and velocity signals (derived from signals provided by the force sensor 112) to the motor control system 109. The motor control system 109 outputs a drive signal to a motor 113 which is coupled to the inceptor 103. The control system 111 and the motor control system 109 coupled thereto serve to drive the motor 113 so that the inceptor 103 is moved (by the motor) to a desired position which depends upon the force exerted on the inceptor 103 by an operator. Thus, the action of the motor also provides a force feel characteristic to the operator (pilot).

    [0016] The control system 111 is configured to simulate a second order Mass-Spring-Damper (MSD) system. Such MSD systems are known and described in the literature. See for example http://www.cds.caltech.edu/∼murray/books/AM08/pdf/am08-modeling_19Jul11.pdf.

    [0017] Figure 2 is a simplified block diagram illustrating components comprising the control system 111 of Figure 1 and without any trim input. Two such control systems may be implemented in the inceptor system 100 of Figure 1, one for roll and one for pitch. The control system 200 of Figure 2 uses three MSD function parameters, that is inertia, damping and gradient to provide a model position output signal. The control system 200 uses an input signal (on line 201), representative of a force applied by an operator to the inceptor 103, to generate a feedback 'position' signal (or 'model position') on output line 202 and also a velocity signal on line 203, both of which may be used by the motor control system 109 (along with a position input from the flight control system 101) to generate a demand signal for driving the motor 113 (and therefore the inceptor) to a desired position which depends on the force being applied by the pilot to the inceptor 103.

    [0018] A force 'F' input signal represented by the box numbered 204 in Figure 2 is manually input into the inceptor 103 of Figure 1 by an operator and the signal representing this operator force is input into a first summing circuit 205. Two other inputs are also received by the first summing circuit 205 and their generation and effect will be explained below. These two other inputs are actually subtracted from the force input F to provide a modified force input signal on line 206 which is fed into an input of a (1/inertia) gain circuit 207. The (1/inertia) gain circuit 207 operates in a conventional manner and outputs a signal representing an acceleration of the inceptor 103. An output of the (1/inertia) gain circuit 207 is then fed through a first integrator 208 which outputs a signal on line 203 representing a velocity. The velocity signal is fed through a damping force gain circuit 209 whose output is fed to the first summing circuit 205. The velocity signal is also fed to a second integrator 210 which outputs a signal on line 202 representing a position. The output of the second integrator 210 provides the output of the control system 200 on line 202 and is also fed to a gradient force gain circuit 211 whose output is fed into the first summing circuit 204.

    [0019] The gradient force gain circuit 211 is configured to calculate a gradient force according to a complex series of co-ordinates which define a predetermined mapping characteristic from position (that is; inceptor angular displacement) to force. Figure 3 shows an example of such a mapping characteristic (curve 301) where the abscissa relates to negative and positive angular displacements of the inceptor (that is; aft and forward movements representing pitch, for example) and the ordinate represents the force (positive when moving the inceptor forward; and negative when moving the inceptor in an rearward direction) which must be exerted on the inceptor by the pilot in order to achieve a particular (positive or negative) displacement. The mapping characteristic may be predetermined by the flight control system 101 and determines the "feel" to the pilot as he operates the inceptor 103. The coordinates 302 may be stored in a lookup table incorporated in the gradient force gain circuit 211 Thus, the gradient force gain circuit 211 takes a position output from the output of the second integrator 210, passes the position through the look up table of coordinates (of figure 3 for example), and outputs the corresponding force into the summing circuit 205.

    [0020] The first summing circuit 205, first integrator 208, second integrator 210, damping force gain circuit 209 and gradient force gain control circuit 211 behave as a second order MSD system. The motor control system 109 will drive the inceptor to a desired position depending on the force applied and if the pilot should release the force on the inceptor so that the contribution of the input signal on line 201 to the summed forces in the summer 205 is zero, then the motor will drive the inceptor back to a null position. A typical MSD function will settle to a zero (or null) position when zero force is applied by the operator. However, it is often required that the zero force null point of the MSD function settles to a non-zero displacement, known as the 'trim position'. Therefore, the control system 111 may be modified so that the inceptor may be allowed to settle to a nonzero displacement, or "trim position" when zero force is applied. One way of doing this is to implement a trim function by providing an artificial offset operator force, calculated from a transmitted trim position and the force-position coordinates, which in turn accelerates the inceptor (held by the operator). This involves summing a trim term derived from an output of the trim switch 106 with the position output of the second integrator 210 and then feeding the sum into the gradient force gain circuit 211. However, the inceptor's response therefore includes the dynamics of the 2nd order MSD system. This can result in an unpleasant "buzz" type feel at the inceptor grip 105 when the trim point is dynamically adjusted. An alternative arrangement which does not suffer from this 'buzz' type feel will now be described with reference to Figure 4.

    [0021] Figure 4 is a simplified block diagram showing a modified control system having some features in common with the control system of Figure 2 but including a means for incorporating a trim adjustment. Like components have been given the same reference numerals. Two such control systems may be implemented in the inceptor system of Figure 1 to provide model position signals for both roll and pitch.

    [0022] Similarly to the control system of Figure 2, the control system 400 of Figure 4 uses an input signal (on line 201), representative of a force applied by an operator to the inceptor 103, to generate a feedback 'position' signal (or 'model position') on output line 202 and also a velocity signal on line 203, both of which may be used by the motor control system 109 (along with a position input from the flight control system 101) to generate a demand signal for driving the motor 113 (and therefore the inceptor) to a desired position which depends on the force being applied by the pilot to the inceptor 103. However, the control system of Figure 4 is also capable of allowing the inceptor 103 to be trimmed based on a trim signal from the manually-operated trim switch 106 (see Figure 1).

    [0023] A force 'F' input signal represented by the box numbered 204 in Figure 4 is manually input into the inceptor 103 of Figure 1 by an operator and the signal representing this operator force is input into a first summing circuit 205. Two other inputs are also received by the first summing circuit 205. These two other inputs are subtracted from the force input F to provide a modified force input signal on line 206 which is fed into an input of a (1/inertia) gain circuit 207. The (1/inertia) gain circuit 207 operates in a conventional manner and outputs a signal representing an acceleration of the inceptor 103. An output of the (1/inertia) gain circuit 207 is then fed through a first integrator 208 which outputs a signal on line 203 representing a velocity. The velocity signal is fed through a damping force gain circuit 209 whose output is fed into the first summing circuit 205. The velocity signal is also fed to a second integrator 401. An internal position state of the second integrator (on line 402) is summed in a summer 403 with an input 'delta trim.' An output of the summer 403 is passed through a limiter circuit 404 and back into the second integrator 401. The output of the second integrator on line 202 is thus a modified model position signal. The output of the second integrator 401 which provides the output of the control system 400 on line 202 is also fed to a functional module 405 which contains a look up table LUT 406. The functional module 405 also receives the delta trim input on line 407. The look up table 406 contains a force-displacement mapping characteristic of coordinates, for example as described above with reference to Figure 3. When no trimming process is being carried out, the functional module 405 can behave in the same manner as the gradient force gain circuit 211 described above. Its operation when a trimming is to be carried out will be described below.

    [0024] The delta trim input on line 407 is defined as the difference (or change) in trim point (in pitch or roll) from its value in the last iteration frame running in the flight control system 101. Delta trim may be calculated in the fight control system 191 from input signals provided by the trim switch 106. For example, the flight control system 101 may calculate a desired trim position and thus incremental changes in a desired trim position per iteration frame. By adding delta trim to the internal position state (or stored state) of the second integrator 401 the control system 400 increments or decrements the current model position (on line 202) depending on which way the trim point is currently moving. Simultaneously, the force position coordinate mapping in the functional module 405 is also moved according to delta trim. This is done in the functional module 405 by adjusting the stored co-ordinates read from the lookup table 406 in accordance with the delta trim input on line 407.

    [0025] Figure 5 shows how the co-ordinates can be shifted from a curve 501 representing the stored coordinates to a second curve 502 which represents coordinate values shifted by an amount (which can be either in a positive or negative direction) dictated by delta trim. The functional module 405 then outputs the appropriate value for force which corresponds to the current model position value as received from the second integrator 401. As the internal position state and the position force coordinates are shifted by the same amount this results in no force being generated as a result of the model (represented by the control system 400) being moved to a new position on account of any trim input. The effect of moving the whole set of coordinates and the effect of the delta trim on the model position input makes sure that the output of the functional module 405 does not change from its last value.

    [0026] This method of trimming moves the 2nd order MSD system internal position state at the same time as the force-position coordinates, resulting in no forces being applied to the MSD model inertia. This results in no 2nd order dynamics being superimposed on the feel of the inceptor when dynamically adjusting the trim position and hence an absence of any undesirable buzzing feel coming through the inceptor grip.

    [0027] The purpose of the limiter 404 (see Figure 4) which is an optional feature, is as follows. If the output of the second integrator 401 is greater than or equal to the positive operational range of the inceptor (or less than or equal to the negative operational range of the inceptor), then the delta trim signal is not summed with the last internal state of the second integrator 401. If none of the inceptor operational ranges are reached, then the limit doesn't apply and the delta trim signal is summed

    [0028] Although the specific examples have been described with reference to control sticks for aircraft, it will be understood that the principles disclosed herein may be equally applicable to other type of vehicles and machinery.

    [0029] The signal processing functionality of the embodiments of the invention, particularly the second integrator 401 and functional module 405 may be achieved using computing systems or architectures known to those who are skilled in the relevant art. Computing systems such as, a desktop, laptop or notebook computer, hand-held computing device (PDA, cell phone, palmtop, etc.), mainframe, server, client, or any other type of special or general purpose computing device as may be desirable or appropriate for a given application or environment can be used. The computing system can include one or more processors which can be implemented using a general or special-purpose processing engine such as, for example, a microprocessor, microcontroller or other control module.

    [0030] The computing system can also include a main memory, such as random access memory (RAM) or other dynamic memory, for storing information and instructions to be executed by a processor. Such a main memory also may be used for storing temporary variables or other intermediate information during execution of instructions to be executed by the processor. The computing system may likewise include a read only memory (ROM) or other static storage device for storing static information and instructions for a processor.

    [0031] The computing system may also include an information storage system which may include, for example, a media drive and a removable storage interface. The media drive may include a drive or other mechanism to support fixed or removable storage media, such as a hard disk drive, a floppy disk drive, a magnetic tape drive, an optical disk drive, a compact disc (CD) or digital video drive (DVD) read or write drive (R or RW), or other removable or fixed media drive. Storage media may include, for example, a hard disk, floppy disk, magnetic tape, optical disk, CD or DVD, or other fixed or removable medium that is read by and written to by media drive. The storage media may include a computer-readable storage medium having particular computer software or data stored therein.

    [0032] In alternative embodiments, an information storage system may include other similar components for allowing computer programs or other instructions or data to be loaded into the computing system. Such components may include, for example, a removable storage unit and an interface , such as a program cartridge and cartridge interface, a removable memory (for example, a flash memory or other removable memory module) and memory slot, and other removable storage units and interfaces that allow software and data to be transferred from the removable storage unit to computing system.

    [0033] The computing system can also include a communications interface. Such a communications interface can be used to allow software and data to be transferred between a computing system and external devices. Examples of communications interfaces can include a modem, a network interface (such as an Ethernet or other NIC card), a communications port (such as for example, a universal serial bus (USB) port), a PCMCIA slot and card, etc. Software and data transferred via a communications interface are in the form of signals which can be electronic, electromagnetic, and optical or other signals capable of being received by a communications interface medium.

    [0034] In this document, the terms 'computer program product', computer-readable medium' and the like may be used generally to refer to tangible media such as, for example, a memory, storage device, or storage unit. These and other forms of computer-readable media may store one or more instructions for use by the processor comprising the computer system to cause the processor to perform specified operations. Such instructions, generally referred to as 'computer program code' (which may be grouped in the form of computer programs or other groupings), when executed, enable the computing system to perform functions of embodiments of the present invention. Note that the code may directly cause a processor to perform specified operations, be compiled to do so, and/or be combined with other software, hardware, and/or firmware elements (e.g., libraries for performing standard functions) to do so.

    [0035] In an embodiment where the elements are implemented using software, the software may be stored in a computer-readable medium and loaded into computing system using, for example, removable storage drive. A control module (in this example, software instructions or executable computer program code), when executed by the processor in the computer system, causes a processor to perform the functions of the invention as described herein.

    [0036] Furthermore, the inventive concept can be applied to any circuit for performing signal processing functionality within a network element. It is further envisaged that, for example, a semiconductor manufacturer may employ the inventive concept in a design of a stand-alone device, such as a microcontroller of a digital signal processor (DSP), or application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) and/or any other sub-system element.

    [0037] It will be appreciated that, for clarity purposes, the above description has described embodiments of the invention with reference to a single processing logic. However, the inventive concept may equally be implemented by way of a plurality of different functional units and processors to provide the signal processing functionality. Thus, references to specific functional units are only to be seen as references to suitable means for providing the described functionality, rather than indicative of a strict logical or physical structure or organisation.

    [0038] Aspects of the invention may be implemented in any suitable form including hardware, software, firmware or any combination of these. The invention may optionally be implemented, at least partly, as computer software running on one or more data processors and/or digital signal processors or configurable module components such as FPGA devices. Thus, the elements and components of an embodiment of the invention may be physically, functionally and logically implemented in any suitable way. Indeed, the functionality may be implemented in a single unit, in a plurality of units or as part of other functional units.

    [0039] Although the present invention has been described in connection with some embodiments, it is not intended to be limited to the specific form set forth herein. Rather, the scope of the present invention is limited only by the accompanying claims.

    [0040] Furthermore, although individually listed, a plurality of means, elements or method steps may be implemented by, for example, a single unit or processor.


    Claims

    1. A control system (400) for a manually-operated control stick (103) and for enabling the control stick (103) to settle to a trim position when zero force is applied to the control stick (103) by an operator, the control system (400) including:

    a first circuit comprising a summing circuit (205) arranged for a receiving a first signal representative of a force applied to the control stick by an operator and for receiving a second signal representing at least one force feedback signal and arranged to subtract the second signal from the first signal to provide a third signal;

    a second circuit comprising a first integrator circuit (208) arranged for receiving the third signal and arranged to derive a velocity signal therefrom;

    a third circuit comprising a second integrator circuit (401), having an internal stored state, wherein the third circuit is arranged for receiving the velocity signal and arranged to generate a position signal therefrom, wherein the second integrator circuit is also arranged to receive a trim input signal representative of the trim position and is arranged to sum the received trim input signal with its internal stored state to generate the position signal; and
    a fourth circuit (405), containing values defining a predetermined force-position mapping characteristic (406), wherein the fourth circuit (405) is arranged for receiving a position signal from the second integrator and the trim input signal and is arranged to, when no trimming operation is required, extract a force value corresponding to the received position signal from the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic and output a force feedback signal to the first circuit representative of the extracted force value, and when a trimming operation is required, to modify the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic by shifting, the position values in the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic by an amount equal to the trim position represented by the received trim input signal, and select a force value corresponding to a received position signal from the modified force-position mapping characteristic and output a force feedback signal representative of the selected force value to the first circuit, wherein the control system (400) is arranged that the position values defining the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic contained in the fourth circuit (405) are shifted according to trim input signal, and simultaneously with the second integrator (401) summing of the trim input signal with said second integrator circuit (401) internal stored state.


     
    2. The control system (400) of claim 1 wherein the trim input signal is a difference in trim point from a last iteration.
     
    3. The control system (400) of either preceding claim wherein the third circuit includes a limiter circuit for limiting a magnitude of the position signal.
     
    4. The control system (400) of any preceding claim including a fifth circuit for receiving the velocity signal and arranged to derive a further force feedback signal therefrom for application to the summing circuit.
     
    5. The control system (400) of claim 4 configured as a second order Mass Spring Damper system.
     
    6. An inceptor system (400) for an aircraft including a control stick and the control system of any of claims1 to 5.
     
    7. An aircraft including the inceptor system of claim 6.
     
    8. A method using the control system (400)of any of the claims 1 to 5 for controlling a manually-operated control stick (103) and for enabling the control stick (103) to settle to a trim position when zero force is applied to the control stick by an operator, the method including:

    receiving a first signal representative of a force applied to the control stick by an operator, receiving a second signal representing at least one force feedback signal, subtracting the second signal from the first signal to provide a third signal;

    receiving the third signal and deriving a velocity signal therefrom;

    receiving the velocity signal at an integrator having an internal stored state and summing a received trim input signal representative of the trim position with said internal stored state and generating a position signal; and

    receiving at a circuit containing a predetermined force-position mapping characteristic, the position signal and the trim input signal and, when no trimming operation is required, extracting a force value corresponding to the received position signal from the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic and outputting a force feedback signal representative of the extracted force value, and when a trimming operation is required, modifying the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic by shifting, at the same time as summing the received trim input signal with the internal stored state, the position values in the predetermined force-position mapping characteristic by an amount equal to the trim position represented by the received trim input signal, and selecting a force value corresponding to a received position signal from the modified force-position mapping characteristic and outputting a force feedback signal representative of the selected force value.


     
    9. A tangible computer program product having an executable computer program code stored thereon for execution by a processor to perform a method in accordance with claim 8.
     
    10. The tangible computer program product of claim 9 comprising at least one from a group consisting of: a hard disk, a CD-ROM, an optical storage device, a magnetic storage device, a Read Only Memory, a Programmable Read Only Memory, an Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory, an Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory and a Flash memory.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Steuersystem (400) für einen manuell bedienten Steuerknüppel (103) und zum Ermöglichen, dass sich der Steuerknüppel (103) in eine Trimmposition setzt, wenn von einem Bediener keine Kraft auf den Steuerknüppel (103) ausgeübt wird, wobei das Steuersystem (400) Folgendes beinhaltet:

    eine erste Schaltung, die eine Summierungsschaltung (205) umfasst, die zum Empfangen eines ersten Signals, welches eine Kraft darstellt, die von einem Bediener auf den Steuerknüppel ausgeübt wird, und zum Empfangen eines zweiten Signals, das mindestens ein Kraftrückmeldungssignal darstellt, angeordnet ist und die dafür angeordnet ist, das zweite Signal von dem ersten Signal zu subtrahieren, um ein drittes Signal bereitzustellen,

    eine zweite Schaltung, die eine erste Integrierschaltung (208) umfasst, die zum Empfangen des dritten Signals angeordnet ist und dafür angeordnet ist, davon ein Geschwindigkeitssignal abzuleiten,

    eine dritte Schaltung, die eine zweite Integrierschaltung (401) umfasst, die einen intern gespeicherten Zustand aufweist, wobei die dritte Schaltung zum Empfangen des Geschwindigkeitssignals angeordnet ist und dafür angeordnet ist, daraus ein Positionssignal zu erzeugen, wobei die zweite Integrierschaltung außerdem zum Empfangen eines Trimmeingangssignals angeordnet ist, das die Trimmposition darstellt, und dafür angeordnet ist, das empfangene Trimmeingangssignal mit seinem intern gespeicherten Zustand zu summieren, um das Positionssignal zu erzeugen, und

    eine vierte Schaltung (405), die Werte enthält, die eine festgelegte Kraft-Position-Abbildungskennlinie (406) definieren, wobei die vierte Schaltung (405) zum Empfangen eines Positionssignals von der zweiten Integrierschaltung und des Trimmeingangssignals angeordnet ist und dafür angeordnet ist, bei nicht erforderlichem Trimmvorgang einen Kraftwert zu extrahieren, welcher dem empfangenen Positionssignal von der festgelegten Kraft-Position-Abbildungskennlinie entspricht, und ein Kraftrückmeldungssignal an die erste Schaltung auszugeben, das den extrahierten Kraftwert darstellt, und bei erforderlichem Trimmvorgang die festgelegte Kraft-Position-Abbildungskennlinie durch Verschieben der Positionswerte in der festgelegten Kraft-Position-Abbildungskennlinie um ein Maß gleich der Trimmposition, die durch das empfangene Trimmeingangssignal dargestellt ist, zu modifizieren und einen Kraftwert auszuwählen, der einem empfangen Positionssignal von der modifizierten Kraft-Position-Abbildungskennlinie entspricht, und ein Kraftrückmeldungssignal, das den ausgewählten Kraftwert darstellt, an die erste Schaltung auszugeben, wobei das Steuersystem (400) derart angeordnet ist, dass die Positionswerte, welche die festgelegte Kraft-Position-Abbildungskennlinie definieren, die in der vierten Schaltung (405) enthalten ist, gemäß dem Trimmeingangssignal gleichzeitig mit dem Summieren des Trimmeingangssignals mit dem in der zweiten Integrierschaltung (401) intern gespeicherten Zustand durch die zweite Integrierschaltung (401) verschoben werden.


     
    2. Steuersystem (400) nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Trimmeingangssignal eine Differenz des Trimmpunktes zu einer letzten Iteration ist.
     
    3. Steuersystem (400) nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei die dritte Schaltung eine Begrenzerschaltung zum Begrenzen einer Magnitude des Positionssignals beinhaltet.
     
    4. Steuersystem (400) nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, eine fünfte Schaltung zum Empfangen des Geschwindigkeitssignals beinhaltend, die dafür angeordnet ist, davon ein weiteres Kraftrückmeldungssignal zur Anwendung auf die Summierungsschaltung abzuleiten.
     
    5. Steuersystem (400) nach Anspruch 4, als ein Feder-Masse-Dämpfersystem zweiter Ordnung konfiguriert.
     
    6. Steuerorgansystem (400) für ein Flugzeug, einen Steuerknüppel und das Steuersystem nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 5 beinhaltend.
     
    7. Flugzeug, ein Steuerorgansystem nach Anspruch 6 beinhaltend.
     
    8. Verfahren zum Steuern eines manuell bedienten Steuerknüppels (103) und zum Ermöglichen, dass sich der Steuerknüppel (103) in eine Trimmposition setzt, wenn von einem Bediener keine Kraft auf den Steuerknüppel ausgeübt wird, unter Verwendung des Steuersystems (400) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 5, wobei das Verfahren Folgendes beinhaltet:

    Empfangen eines ersten Signals, welches eine Kraft darstellt, die von einem Bediener auf den Steuerknüppel ausgeübt wird, Empfangen eines zweiten Signals, das mindestens ein Kraftrückmeldungssignal darstellt, Subtrahieren des zweiten Signals von dem ersten Signal, um ein drittes Signal bereitzustellen,

    Empfangen des dritten Signals und Ableiten eines Geschwindigkeitssignals davon,

    Empfangen des Geschwindigkeitssignals an einer Integrierschaltung, die einen intern gespeicherten Zustand aufweist, und Summieren eines empfangenen Trimmeingangssignal, das die Trimmposition darstellt, mit dem intern gespeicherten Zustand und Erzeugen eines Positionssignals und

    Empfangen des Positionssignals und des Trimmeingangssignals an einer Schaltung, die eine festgelegte Kraft-Position-Abbildungskennlinie enthält, und bei nicht erforderlichem Trimmvorgang Extrahieren eines Kraftwerts, welcher dem empfangenen Positionssignal entspricht, aus der festgelegten Kraft-Position-Abbildungskennlinie, und Ausgeben eines Kraftrückmeldungssignals, das den extrahierten Kraftwert darstellt, und bei erforderlichem Trimmvorgang Modifizieren der festgelegten Kraft-Position-Abbildungskennlinie durch Verschieben der Positionswerte in der festgelegten Kraft-Position-Abbildungskennlinie gleichzeitig mit dem Summieren des empfangenen Trimmeingangssignals mit dem intern gespeicherten Zustand um ein Maß gleich der Trimmposition, die durch das empfangene Trimmeingangssignal dargestellt ist, und Auswählen eines Kraftwertes, der einem empfangen Positionssignal entspricht, aus der modifizierten Kraft-Position-Abbildungskennlinie, und Ausgeben eines Kraftrückmeldungssignals, das den ausgewählten Kraftwert darstellt.


     
    9. Materielles Computerprogrammprodukt, auf dem ausführbarer Computerprogrammcode zum Ausführen durch einen Prozessor gespeichert ist, um ein Verfahren nach Anspruch 8 durchzuführen.
     
    10. Materielles Computerprogrammprodukt nach Anspruch 9, mindestens eines aus der Gruppe umfassend, die aus Folgendem besteht: einer Festplatte, einer CD-ROM, einer optischen Speichervorrichtung, einer magnetischen Speichervorrichtung, einem Nur-Lese-Speicher (ROM), einem programmierbaren Nur-Lese-Speicher (PROM), einem löschbaren programmierbaren Nur-Lese-Speicher (EPROM), einem elektrisch löschbaren programmierbaren Nur-Lese-Speicher (EEPROM) und einem Flash-Speicher.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système de commande (400) pour un manche à balai actionné manuellement (103), destiné à permettre au manche à balai (103) de se stabiliser en position de compensation lorsqu'une force nulle est appliquée au manche à balai (103) par un opérateur, le système de commande (400) comprenant :

    un premier circuit comprenant un circuit de sommation (205) agencé de manière à recevoir un premier signal représentatif d'une force appliquée au manche à balai par un opérateur, et à recevoir un deuxième signal représentant au moins un signal de retour de force et agencé de manière à soustraire le deuxième signal du premier signal, en vue de fournir un troisième signal ;

    un deuxième circuit comprenant un premier circuit intégrateur (208) agencé de manière à recevoir le troisième signal et agencé de manière à dériver un signal de vitesse à partir de celui-ci ;

    un troisième circuit comprenant un second circuit intégrateur (401), présentant un état stocké interne, dans lequel le troisième circuit est agencé de manière à recevoir le signal de vitesse, et est agencé de manière à générer un signal de position à partir de celui-ci, dans lequel le second circuit intégrateur est également agencé de manière à recevoir un signal d'entrée de compensation représentatif de la position de compensation, et est agencé de manière à sommer le signal d'entrée de compensation reçu et son état stocké interne, en vue de générer le signal de position ; et

    un quatrième circuit (405), contenant des valeurs définissant une caractéristique de mise en correspondance de force-position prédéterminée (406), dans lequel le quatrième circuit (405) est agencé de manière à recevoir un signal de position provenant du second circuit intégrateur, ainsi que le signal d'entrée de compensation, et est agencé de manière à, lorsqu'aucune opération de compensation n'est requise, extraire une valeur de force correspondant au signal de position reçu, de la caractéristique de mise en correspondance de force-position prédéterminée, et fournir en sortie un signal de retour de force, au premier circuit, représentatif de la valeur de force extraite, et lorsqu'une opération de compensation est requise, à modifier la caractéristique de mise en correspondance de force-position prédéterminée, en décalant les valeurs de position dans la caractéristique de mise en correspondance de force-position prédéterminée, d'une quantité égale à la position de compensation représentée par le signal d'entrée de compensation reçu, et à sélectionner une valeur de force correspondant à un signal de position reçu à partir de la caractéristique de mise en correspondance de force-position modifiée, et à fournir en sortie un signal de retour de force représentatif de la valeur de force sélectionnée, au premier circuit, dans lequel le système de commande (400) est agencé de sorte que les valeurs de position définissant la caractéristique de mise en correspondance de force-position prédéterminée contenue dans le quatrième circuit (405) sont décalées selon le signal d'entrée de compensation, et simultanément à la sommation, par le second circuit intégrateur (401), du signal d'entrée de compensation et de l'état stocké interne dudit second circuit intégrateur (401).


     
    2. Système de commande (400) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le signal d'entrée de compensation correspond à une différence, en termes de point de compensation, par rapport à une dernière itération.
     
    3. Système de commande (400) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le troisième circuit comprend un circuit limiteur pour limiter une amplitude du signal de position.
     
    4. Système de commande (400) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant un cinquième circuit pour recevoir le signal de vitesse, et agencé de manière à dériver de celui-ci un signal de retour de force supplémentaire à des fins d'application au circuit de sommation.
     
    5. Système de commande (400) selon la revendication 4, configuré en tant qu'un système « masse-ressort-amortisseur » de second ordre.
     
    6. Système d'ensemble de manche latéral et manette (400) pour un aéronef, incluant un manche à balai ainsi que le système de commande selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 5.
     
    7. Aéronef comprenant le système d'ensemble de manche latéral et manette selon la revendication 6.
     
    8. Procédé utilisant le système de commande (400) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 5, pour commander un manche à balai actionné manuellement (103) et pour permettre au manche à balai (103) de se stabiliser en position de compensation lorsqu'une force nulle est appliquée au manche à balai par un opérateur, le procédé incluant les étapes ci-dessous consistant à :

    recevoir un premier signal représentatif d'une force appliquée au manche à balai par un opérateur, recevoir un deuxième signal représentant au moins un signal de retour de force, et soustraire le deuxième signal du premier signal afin de fournir un troisième signal ;

    recevoir le troisième signal et dériver un signal de vitesse à partir de celui-ci ;

    recevoir le signal de vitesse au niveau d'un circuit intégrateur présentant un état stocké interne, et sommer un signal d'entrée de compensation reçu, représentatif de la position de compensation, et son état stocké interne, et générer un signal de position ; et

    recevoir, au niveau d'un circuit contenant une caractéristique de mise en correspondance de force-position prédéterminée, le signal de position et le signal d'entrée de compensation, et, lorsqu'aucune opération de compensation n'est requise, extraire une valeur de force correspondant au signal de position reçu, de la caractéristique de mise en correspondance de force-position prédéterminée, et fournir en sortie un signal de retour de force représentatif de la valeur de force extraite, et lorsqu'une opération de compensation est requise, modifier la caractéristique de mise en correspondance de force-position prédéterminée, en décalant, simultanément à la sommation du signal d'entrée de compensation reçu et de l'état stocké interne, les valeurs de position dans la caractéristique de mise en correspondance de force-position prédéterminée, d'une quantité égale à la position de compensation représentée par le signal d'entrée de compensation reçu, et sélectionner une valeur de force correspondant à un signal de position reçu à partir de la caractéristique de mise en correspondance de force-position modifiée, et fournir en sortie un signal de retour de force représentatif de la valeur de force sélectionnée.


     
    9. Produit-programme informatique tangible sur lequel est stocké un code de programme informatique exécutable destiné à être exécuté par un processeur en vue de mettre en Ĺ“uvre un procédé selon la revendication 8.
     
    10. Produit-programme informatique tangible selon la revendication 9, comprenant au moins un élément parmi un groupe constitué par : un disque dur, un CD-ROM, un dispositif de stockage optique, un dispositif de stockage magnétique, une mémoire morte, une mémoire morte programmable, une mémoire morte programmable et effaçable, une mémoire morte programmable et effaçable électriquement, et une mémoire flash.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description