This work suggests a solution for the output reference model (ORM) tracking control problem, based on approximate dynamic programming. General nonlinear systems are included in a control system (CS) and subjected to state feedback. By linear ORM selection, indirect CS feedback linearization is obtained, leading to favorable linear behavior of the CS. The Value Iteration (VI) algorithm ensures model-free nonlinear state feedback controller learning, without relying on the process dynamics. From linear to nonlinear parameterizations, a reliable approximate VI implementation in continuous state-action spaces depends on several key parameters such as problem dimension, exploration of the state-action space, the state-transitions dataset size, and a suitable selection of the function approximators. Herein, we find that, given a transition sample dataset and a general linear parameterization of the Q-function, the ORM tracking performance obtained with an approximate VI scheme can reach the performance level of a more general implementation using neural networks (NNs). Although the NN-based implementation takes more time to learn due to its higher complexity (more parameters), it is less sensitive to exploration settings, number of transition samples, and to the selected hyper-parameters, hence it is recommending as the de facto practical implementation. Contributions of this work include the following: VI convergence is guaranteed under general function approximators; a case study for a low-order linear system in order to generalize the more complex ORM tracking validation on a real-world nonlinear multivariable aerodynamic process; comparisons with an offline deep deterministic policy gradient solution; implementation details and further discussions on the obtained results.
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