Adaptive wind feedforward control of an Unmanned Surface Vehicle for station keeping
von Ellenrieder KD
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Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) have widespread commercial, scientific and military applications. In some of these applications station keeping is essential. Since USVs have a bigger surface/ weight ration than large commercial ships, they are more sensitive to wind disturbances, especially during station keeping. The modeling, identification and control of a 4.9 meter long, 180 kilogram wave adaptive modular vehicle (WAM-V) USV are presented in this paper. The propulsion system of the USV is custom designed with two azimuthing thrusters, making the USV fully actuated. System identification tests were conducted to get the precise model of the USV. A sliding mode controller was first applied to the USV and a wind feedforward controller was designed to aid the nonlinear feedback control to mitigate wind disturbance. For the feedforward controller design, a wind model was formulated that uses the apparent wind speed and direction collected from a high accuracy anemometer. A model based adaptive mechanism was developed to tune the feedforward control gains for the best performance. Station keeping field tests were conducted at a location with an average wind speed of 9 knots. The results show that with the tuned feedforward controller, the USV can hold its position and heading better over extended periods of time than a single feedback controller.