One important problem for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in mission applications is to track ground targets automatically. A major concern is how to keep the tracking process stable and efficient while the motion of the ground targets changes rapidly. In this brief, a new guidance strategy for the ground target “Search and Capture” based on a virtual target is proposed. First, a virtual trajectory, which is composed of straight lines and arcs, is generated based on the motion of the target. The straight lines are used to capture, while the arcs are used to search, and switch between straight line and arc when some condition is met; second, we design a new guidance law based on line-of-sight (LOS) which makes a UAV to track the virtual target automatically. This new method solves the following three problems simultaneously: (1) The UAV always keeps a constant speed to track the target with changing velocity, (2) the generated trajectory meets the flight constraints of the UAV, and (3) the speed range of the ground target can be from the stationary to almost the maximum cruising speed of the UAV. Simulation results show that the proposed guidance strategy can achieve stable tracking for various motions of the ground target.

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