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This paper presents the theory and experimental work of the adaptive plus disturbance observer (DOB) controller on underwater robot. This control scheme consists of DOB as an inner-loop compensator and a non-regressor based adaptive controller as an outer-loop controller. It is regressor-free, and is robust with respect to external disturbance as well as the variation of the nominal model used to construct DOB. The performance and characteristics of this controller are shown through comparison tests among four different controllers: PID controller, PID plus DOB controller, adaptive controller and adaptive plus DOB controller.