Effective Turning Motion Control of Internally Actuated Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

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© 2017, The Author(s). This paper presents a novel roll mechanism and an efficient control strategy for internally actuated autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). The developed control algorithms are tested on Michigan Tech’s custom research glider, ROUGHIE (Research Oriented Underwater Glider for Hands-on Investigative Engineering), in a controlled environment. The ROUGHIE’s design parameters and operational constraints were driven by its requirement to be man portable, expandable, and maneuverable in shallow water. As an underwater glider, the ROUGHIE is underactuated with direct control of only depth, pitch, and roll. A switching control method is implemented on the ROUGHIE to improve its maneuverability, enabling smooth transitions between different motion patterns. This approach uses multiple feedforward-feedback controllers. Different aspects of the roll mechanism and the effectiveness of the controller on turning motion are discussed based on experimental results. The results illustrate that the ROUGHIE is capable of achieving tight turns with a radius of 2.4 meters in less than 3 meters of water, or one order of magnitude improvement on existing internally actuated platforms. The developed roll mechanism is not specific to underwater gliders and is applicable to all AUVs, especially at lower speeds and in shallower water when external rudder is less effective in maneuvering the vehicle.

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Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems: Theory and Applications