Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems

, Volume 95, Issue 1, pp 229–238 | Cite as

Aerial-Underwater Systems, a New Paradigm in Unmanned Vehicles

  • D. Mercado
  • M. Maia
  • F. J. DiezEmail author


Unmanned Aerial-Underwater Vehicles (UAUVs) arise as a new kind of unmanned system capable of performing equally well in multiple mediums and seamlessly transitioning between them. This work focuses in the modeling and trajectory tracking control of a special class of air-underwater vehicle with full torque actuation and a single thrust force directed along the vehicle’s vertical axis. In particular, a singularity-free representation is required in order to orient the vehicle in any direction, which becomes critical underwater in order to direct the thrust force in the direction of motion and effectively overcome the increased drag and buoyancy forces. A quaternion based representation is used for this purpose. A hierarchical controller is proposed, where trajectory tracking is accomplished by a Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) controller with compensation of the restoring forces. The outer trajectory tracking control loop provides the thrust force and desired orientation. The latter is fed to the inner attitude control loop, where a nonlinear quaternion feedback is employed. A gain scheduling strategy is used to deal with the drastic change in medium density during transitions. The proposed scheme is studied through numerical simulations, while real time experiments validate the good performance of the system.


Multi-medium systems UAVs UUVs Singularity-free Trajectory tracking 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This work was supported by Office of Naval Research (ONR), Grant No. N00014-15-2235 with Dr. Thomas McKenna serving as Program Manager.

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


  1. 1.
    Kumar, V., Michael N.: Opportunities and challenges with autonomous micro aerial vehicles. In: International Symposium on Robotics Research, Flagstaff (2011)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kinsey, J., Eustice, R., Whitcomb, L.: A survey of underwater vehicle navigation: recent advances and new challenges. In: Proceedings of the IFAC Conference of Maneuvering and Control of Marine Craft, p 88. Lisbon (2006)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Unknown: Denmark amazing submarine plane. In: Modern Mechanics and Inventions, vol. 25, pp 74–75 (1930)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Petrov, G.: Flying submarine. - russian air force. Accessed 15 July 2017 (1995)
  5. 5.
    Drews, P. Jr, Neto, A., Campos, M.: Hybrid unmanned aerial underwater vehicle: modeling and simulation. In: International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Chicago (2014)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Neto, A., Mozelli, L., Drews, P. Jr, Campos, M.: Attitude control for an hybrid unmanned aerial underwater vehicle: a robust switched strategy with global stability. In: International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). Sweden, Stockholm (2016)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Maia, M., Soni, P., Diez-Garias, F.: Demonstration of an aerial and submersible vehicle capable of flight and underwater navigation with seamless air-water transition. arXiv:1507.01932 (2015)
  8. 8.
    Wen, J., Kreutz-Delgado, K.: The attitude control problem. IEEE Trans. Autom. Control. 36(10), 1148–1162 (1991)MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Castillo, P., Lozano, R., Dzul, A.: Modelling and Control of Mini-flying Machines. Springer, Londres (2005)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hamel, T., Mahony, R., Lozano, R., Ostrowsky, J.: Dynamic modeling and configuration stabilization for a X4-Flyer. In: 15th Triennial IFAC World Congress. Barcelona (2002)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cassau, P., Sanfelice, R., Cunha, R., Cabecinhas, D., Silvestre, C.: Robust global trajectory tracking for a class of underactuated vehicles. Automatica 58, 90–98 (2015)MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Joshi, S., Kelkar, A., Wen, J.: Robust attitude stabilization of spacecraft using nonlinear quaternion feedback. IEEE Trans. Autom. Control. 40(10), 1800–1803 (1995)MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Fjellstad, O., Fossen, T.: Quaternion feedback regulation of underwater vehicles. In: Proceedings of the Third IEEE Conference on Control Applications (1994)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lee, T.: Global exponential attitude tracking controls on SO(3). IEEE. Trans. Autom. Control. 60(10), 2837–2842 (2015)MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Frazzoli, E., Dahleh, M., Feron, E.: Trajectory tracking control design for autonomous helicopters using a backstepping algorithm. In: Proceedings of the American Control Conference, Chicago (2000)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Mercado, D., Maia, M., Diez, F.: Aerial-underwater systems, a new paradigm in unmanned vehicles. In: International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (2017), Miami (2017)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Maia, M., Mercado, D., Diez, F.: Design and implementation of multirotor aerial-underwater vehicles with experimental results. In: International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Vancouver (2017)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Trawny, N., Roumeliotis, S.: Indirect Kalman filter for 3d attitude estimation. Technical report, University of Minnesota, Department of Computing Science and Engineering (2005)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Roskam, J.: Airplane flight dynamics and automatic flight controls. Roskam Aviation and Engineering Corporations, Lawrence (1982)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fossen, T.: Guidance and Control of Ocean Vehicles. Wiley, England (1994)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Zhao, S., Dong, A., Farrell, J.: Quaternion-based trajectory tracking control of VTOL-UAVs using command filtered backstepping. In: American Control Conference (ACC), Washington (2013)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Astrom, K., Wittenmark, B.: Adaptive Control, 2nd edn, ch. 9, pp 390–417. Addison-Wesley, Reading (1995)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering RutgersThe State University of New JerseyPiscatawayUSA

Personalised recommendations