Path planning, flow estimation, and dynamic control for underwater vehicles
Lagor Jr., Francis Dennis
Paley, Derek A
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Underwater vehicles such as robotic fish and long-endurance ocean-sampling platforms operate in challenging fluid environments. This dissertation incorporates models of the fluid environment in the vehicles' guidance, navigation, and control strategies while addressing uncertainties associated with estimates of the environment's state. Coherent flow structures may be on the same spatial scale as the vehicle or substantially larger than the vehicle. This dissertation argues that estimation and control tasks across widely varying spatial scales, from vehicle-scale to long-range, may be addressed using common tools of empirical observability analysis, nonlinear/non-Gaussian estimation, and output-feedback control. As an application in vehicle-scale flow estimation and control, this dissertation details the design, fabrication, and testing of a robotic fish with an artificial lateral-line inspired by the lateral-line flow-sensing organ present in fish. The robotic fish is capable of estimating the flow speed and relative angle of the oncoming flow. Using symmetric and asymmetric sensor configurations, the robot achieves the primitive fish behavior called rheotaxis, which describes a fish's tendency to orient upstream. For long-range flow estimation and control, path planning may be accomplished using observability-based path planning, which evaluates a finite set of candidate control inputs using a measure related to flow-field observability and selects an optimizer over the set. To incorporate prior information, this dissertation derives an augmented observability Gramian using an optimal estimation strategy known as Incremental 4D-Var. Examination of the minimum eigenvalue of an empirical version of this Gramian yields a novel measure for path planning, called the empirical augmented unobservability index. Numerical experiments show that this measure correctly selects the most informative paths given the prior information. As an application in long-range flow estimation and control, this dissertation considers estimation of an idealized pair of ocean eddies by an adaptive Lagrangian sensor (i.e., a platform that uses its position data as measurements of the fluid transport, after accounting for its own control action). The adaptive sampling is accomplished using the empirical augmented unobservability index, which is extended to non-Gaussian posterior densities using an approximate expected-cost calculation. Output feedback recursively improves estimates of the vehicle position and flow-field states.