There are several emerging applications for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) where the agility and accurate control of location and/or orientation is critical. In the presence of random ocean currents and waves, conventional AUV systems need to use a combination of their thrusters to generate an appropriate force/torque and cancel the external disturbance to maintain the desired attitude or position. This is a relatively slow response since it requires accelerating and pushing water around the vehicle body. Thus, existing AUVs have disadvantages: (i) accurate and agile orientation and position control/stabilization is challenging; (ii) since thrusters are operational during reorientation maneuvers, a substantial amount of power is consumed to pump the bulk fluid, wasting the precious power storage of the vehicle and thus reducing its operational time; and (iii) drag forces and torques exerted on the thrusters significantly affect the efficiency of reorientation maneuvers.
UC Berkeley researchers have designed a new device for fast stabilization and control of an underwater robotic vehicle. In this architecture, the attitude maneuvers are performed using reaction torques that the body of the vehicle gains from a central inertial system.
Autonomous underwater vehicle, ocean, robotic