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Simulation and Control of an Unmanned Surface Vehicle

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Ocean and Marine Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.7.1 - 24.7.11

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Paper Authors


Lifford McLauchlan Texas A&M University, Kingsville

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Dr. Lifford McLauchlan completed his Ph.D. at Texas A&M University, College Station. After spending time in industry, he has returned to academia. He is an associate professor at Texas A&M University-Kingsville in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. His main research interests include controls, robotics, education, adaptive systems, intelligent systems, signal and image processing, biometrics and watermarking. He is the current chair of the ASEE Ocean and Marine Engineering Division and is a senior member of IEEE.

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Simulation and Control of Unmanned Underwater VehiclesAbstractAcademic exercises that demonstrate the theory give students an understanding of the conceptsbut generally without “real world” concerns and constraints. Problem based learning (PBL) hasbeen shown to excite students and get them more involved in discussions and the course.Students generally become excited when they design solutions for “real world” or “realistic”problems that are based upon applications and problems as they can visualize how their solutionswork or do not work for the given problem. With the continued reduction in resources availableto obtain large scale vehicles as well as the high cost of equipment, simulations become evermore important for illustrating control system designs to students. At a newlab exercise for an unmanned underwater vehicle has been created for students. The lab exercisesteps the students through the development of the physics based model for the system. Thisallows the students to better understand the vehicle’s movements in 3D as they explore thevehicle’s model. The students analyze the stability of the open loop system using methods theyhave learned during the lecture and then develop the control for the closed loop system. Themodel is then simulated in Matlab, Octave or another similar software program.With the developed model and closed loop control system, the model (physics based equations)can then be ported to simulation environments such as AUV Workbench, which was developedas a modeling tool to study and utilize physics based real time unmanned vehicle simulationoperating in “realistic environments.” The lab demonstrates how this model can be incorporatedinto AUV Workbench. Different controllers for the unmanned vehicle can also be implementedin AUV Workbench. AUV Workbench then acts as a visual demonstration of how the vehiclemoves in the 3D simulation environment giving the students more feedback on how thecontrollers would behave on a real system. The new “realistic” lab exercise’s efficacy isdemonstrated through each of the student’s increased understanding of control system concepts.

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