This paper presents a linearization method for the vehicle and tire models under the model predictive control (MPC) scheme, and proposes a linear model-based MPC path-tracking steering controller for autonomous vehicles. The steering controller is designed to minimize lateral path-tracking deviation at high speeds. The vehicle model is linearized by a sequence of supposed steering angles, which are obtained by assuming the vehicle can reach the desired path at the end of the MPC prediction horizon and stay in a steady-state condition. The lateral force of the front tire is directly used as the control input of the model, and the rear tire’s lateral force is linearized by an equivalent cornering stiffness. The course-direction deviation, which is the angle between the velocity vector and the path heading, is chosen as a control reference state. The linearization model is validated through the simulation, and the results show high prediction accuracy even in regions of large steering angle. This steering controller is tested through simulations on the CarSim-Simulink platform (R2013b, MathWorks, Natick, MA, USA), showing the improved performance of the present controller at high speeds.
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