Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

An experimental setup for autonomous operation of surface vessels in rough seas

  • Farshad Mahini (a1), Leonard DiWilliams (a1), Kevin Burke (a1) and Hashem Ashrafiuon (a1)

A small-scale experimental setup for autonomous target tracking of a surface vessel in the presence of obstacles is presented. The experiments are performed in simulated rough seas through wave, current, and wind generation in a small indoor pool. Absolute position of the agent and the target as well as the obstacle size and position are provided through an overhead camera by detecting color light emitting diodes installed on all objects. Ordinary differential equations with stable limit-cycle solutions are used to define transitional trajectories around obstacles based on the camera data. A sliding mode control law is implemented for real-time tracking control which is capable of rejecting large disturbances from the generated waves and wind. The sliding mode control signals are sent to wireless receivers on the autonomous vessel where a proportional integral speed controller maintains the commanded speed. A special scaling method is presented to show that the environmental forces are similar to those of moderate through high sea states. Several experiments are presented where the autonomous vessel catches and follows a target boat moving in arbitrary trajectories in both the presence and absence of obstacles.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

4. K. Pathak and S. K. Agrawal , “An integrated path-planning and control approach for nonholonomic unicycles using switched local potentials,” IEEE Trans. Robot. 21 (6), 12011208 (2005).

5. D. H. Kim and J. H. Kim , “A real-time limit-cycle navigation method for fast mobile robots and its application to robot soccer,” Robot. Auton. Syst. 42 (1), 1730 (2003).

8. K. Pettersen and H. Nijmeijer , “Global practical stabilization and tracking for an underactuated ship – A combined averaging and backstepping approach,” Model. Identif. Control 20 (4), 189199 (1999).

9. S. Berge , K. Ohtsu and T. Fossen , “Nonlinear control of ships minimizing the position tracking errors,” Model. Identif. Control 20 (3), 177187 (1999).

12. K. Pettersen and H. Nijmeijer , “Underactuated ship control: Theory and experiments,” Int. J. Control 74 (14), 14351446 (2001).

14. A. Behal , D. Dawson , W. Dixon and Y. Fang , “Tracking and regulation control of an underactuated surface vessel with nonintegrable dynamics,” IEEE Trans. Autom. Control 47 (3), 495500 (2002).

15. Z.-P. Jiang , “Global tracking control of underactuated ships by Lyaounov's direct method,” Automatica 38, 301309 (2002).

16. E. Lefeber , K. Pettersen and H. Nijmeijer , “Tracking control of an underactuated ship,” IEEE Trans. Control Syst. Technol. 11 (1), 5261 (2003).

17. K. Do , Z.-P. Jiang and J. Pan , “Robust global stabilization of underactuated ships on a linear course: State and output feedback,” Int. J. Control 76 (1), 117 (2003).

19. K. Do and J. Pan , “Global tracking control of underactuated ships with nonzero off-diagonal terms in their system matrices,” Automatica 41, 8795 (2005).

20. K.-C. Cao and Y.-P. Tian , “A time-varying cascaded design for trajectory tracking control of non-holonomic systems,” Int. J. Control 80 (3), 416429 (2007).

21. H. Ashrafiuon , K. Muske , L. McNinch and R. Soltan , “Sliding-mode tracking control of surface vessels,” IEEE Trans. Ind. Electron. 55 (11), 40044012 (2008).

23. V. Utkin , “Variable structure systems with sliding modes,” IEEE Trans. Autom. Control 22 (2), 212222 (1977).

31. S. Sukkarieh , E. M. Nebot and H. F. Durrant-Whyte , “A high integrity IMU/GPS navigation loop for autonomous land vehicle applications,” IEEE Trans. Robot. Autom. 15 (3), 572578 (1999).

33. F. M. White , Fluid Mechanics (Mcgraw-Hill College, New York, 2003).

34. P. Boccotti , Wave Mechanics for Ocean Engineering (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2000).

36. T. Perez , Ship Motion Control: Course Keeping and Roll Stabilisation Using Rudder and Fins. (Springer, New York, 2005).

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0263-5747
  • EISSN: 1469-8668
  • URL: /core/journals/robotica
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 18 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 431 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 28th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.