Experimental evaluation of approach behavior for autonomous surface vehicles
von Ellenrieder K
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This article presents an experimental assessment of an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) executing an approach behavior to several stationary targets in an obstacle field. A lattice-based trajectory planner is implemented with a priori knowledge of the vehicle characteristics. In parallel, a lowlevel controller is developed for the vehicle using a proportional control law. These systems are integrated on the USV control system using the Lightweight Communications and Marshalling (LCM) message passing system. Filtered vehiclestate information from onboard sensors is passed to the planner, which returns a least-cost, dynamically feasible trajectory for achieving the ascertained goal. The system was tested in a 750 m by 150 m area of the US Intracoastal Waterway in South Florida in the presence of wind and wave disturbances to characterize its effectiveness in a real-world scenario. The vehicle was able to replicate behavior predicted in simulations when navigating around obstacles. The approach distance to each target was favorably lower than the userdefined limit. Owing to the fact that the USV uses differential thrust for steering, the vehicle tracked the planned trajectories better at lower speeds.