Title page for ETD etd-02112008-143821

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Roberson, David Gray
Author's Email Address grayr@vt.edu
URN etd-02112008-143821
Title Environmental Tracking and Formation Control for an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Platoon with Limited Communication
Degree PhD
Department Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Stilwell, Daniel J. Committee Chair
Baumann, William T. Committee Member
da Silva, Claudio R. C. M. Committee Member
Gugercin, Serkan Committee Member
Hou, Yiwei Thomas Committee Member
  • multi-vehicle coordination
  • switched systems
  • environmental sensing
  • decentralized control
  • cooperative control
Date of Defense 2008-02-01
Availability unrestricted
A platoon of autonomous underwater vehicles provides a compelling platform for studying many challenging issues in multi-agent cooperative control. These challenges include developing cooperative algorithms suitable to practical multi-vehicle applications. They also include addressing intervehicle communication issues, such as sharing information via limited bandwidth channels and selecting network architecture to facilitate control design. This work addresses problems in each of these areas.

Environmental tracking and formation control serves as the main application upon which this work focuses. In the tracking and formation control application, a team of vehicles obtains a spatial average of an environmental feature by collecting and sharing local measurements. To achieve this objective, vehicles track a desired environmental field contour with their average position while maintaining a desired spatial formation about the average. A decentralized consensus-based algorithm is developed for controlling the platoon. In a novel two-level consensus approach, each vehicle estimates a virtual leader trajectory using local and shared measurements at one level, then positions itself about the virtual leader at a second level.

Due to very low bandwidth underwater communication, vehicles share information intermittently, and the platoon network is effectively disconnected at every instant of time. This issue is addressed by modeling the platoon as a periodic switched system whose frozen-time subsystems possess disconnected networks, but whose time-averaged system is connected. The stability and input-output properties of the switched system are related to those of the corresponding average system. Under sufficiently fast switching, asymptotic stability of the average system implies asymptotic stability of the switched system and the existence of an L2 gain. Estimates of the slowest stabilizing switching rate and the L2 gain are derived.

Controller and estimator design are complicated by the lack of a separation principle for decentralized systems and by the effects of intervehicle coupling. The potential for choosing the communication topology in a manner that leads to design simplifications is investigated. In particular, a transformation is presented that converts the platoon state coefficient matrix to block diagonal form when the communication network has a circulant structure.

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