Stabilizing Control of an Unmanned Surface Vehicle Pushing a Floating Load


In this paper, the automatic control of a single unmanned surface vehicle (USV) pushing a floating load is developed and theoretically analyzed. This represents a challenging control problem, since the manipulated load is underactuated and its open-loop dynamics is inherently unstable. Thus, a stabilizing controller must be designed. To this end, a scheme that combines partial feedback linearization with local linearization of the remaining nonlinear terms is proposed. Such scheme simplifies the design of a variable structure controller, that has robustness characteristics to parametric uncertainties and matched disturbances. The proposed closed-loop control system has local stability properties. Small-scale experimental results in calm waters, and simulation results, illustrate the performance of the proposed control system.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to José Paulo V. S. Cunha.

Additional information

Recommended by Associate Editor Son-Cheol Yu under the direction of Editor-in-Chief Keum-Shik Hong.

This work was supported in part by Brazilian funding agencies CNPq, FAPERJ, and Coordenagao de Aperfeigoamento de Pessoal de Nfvel Superior — CAPES — Finance Code 001. This work was completed while Paula B. Garcia-Rosa was affiliated with the Department of Electric Power Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.

Rafael Vida Castro Rosario received his B.Sc. degree in electrical engineering and an M.Sc. in electronic engineering from the State University of Rio de Janeiro, in 2013 and 2017, respectively.

José Paulo V. S. Cunha was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 9, 1965. He received his B.Sc. degree in electrical engineering from the State University of Rio de Janeiro in 1988, and his M.Sc. and D.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and 2004, respectively. From 1992 to 1996, he was a teacher at the Centro Federal de Educação Tecnológica do Rio de Janeiro. Since 1997, he has been a Professor at the Department of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering of the State University of Rio de Janeiro. His research interests include sliding-mode control, control of electromechanical systems, marine systems, underwater and surface vehicles, the development of instrumentation and measurement systems. Dr. Cunha is a member of the Sociedade Brasileira de Automatica and of the IEEE.

Paula B. Garcia-Rosa was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She received her B.Sc. degree in Electronic Engineering from the State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2004, and her M.Sc. and D.Sc. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Ocean Engineering, respectively, from the COPPE/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in 2008 and 2013. She was a Post-doctoral Researcher (2013–2015) with the Centre for Ocean Energy Research, Maynooth University, Ireland, and a Visiting Researcher (2016–2017) and Postdoctoral Researcher (2018–2020), respectively, with the Dept. of Eng. Cybernetics, and Dept. of Electric Power Eng., Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway. She is currently a Research Scientist with SINTEF Energy Research, Norway. Her research interests include control of electromechanical systems, marine systems, offshore renewable energy technologies, and optimization and control of wave energy systems. Dr. Garcia-Rosa is a member of the IEEE.

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Rosario, R.V.C., Cunha, J.P.V.S. & Garcia-Rosa, P.B. Stabilizing Control of an Unmanned Surface Vehicle Pushing a Floating Load. Int. J. Control Autom. Syst. (2020).

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  • Manipulation tasks
  • marine systems
  • partial feedback linearization
  • uncertain systems
  • underactuated systems
  • variable structure control