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In order to lay submarine cables on the set path through the control system on the dynamic positioning cable laying vessel, the adaptive tracking controller based on dynamic surface method is proposed. The mathematical model of the cable laying vessel with uncertain parameters is built. The large disturbances from the cable burying plough and environment are compensated for by the adaptive estimator. The proposed adaptive dynamic surface controller guarantees uniformly bounded of the closed-loop system, as well as the output of the vessel asymptotic tracking to desired path. Simulation results show that, the closed-loop system with the proposed controller has good tracking transient performance to the set path, and illustrates robustness to large disturbances.