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Control-Configured Design of Spheroidal, Appendage-Free, Underwater Vehicles

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2 Author(s)
Mazumdar, A. ; Dept. of Mech. Eng., Massachusetts Inst. of Technol., Cambridge, MA, USA ; Asada, H.H.

A highly maneuverable, spheroid-shaped, underwater robot using appendage-free, multi-degree of freedom (DOF) propulsion technologies is presented. The vehicle is hydrodynamically unstable due to the Munk moment. The vehicle is stabilized by feedback control, rather than passive fins, which facilitates rapid turns and agile motions. The new design was motivated by nuclear reactor inspection and other applications where external appendages must be avoided. Two technical challenges are addressed in this paper. One is the development of a compact, multi-DOF propulsion system that generates multiaxis water jets and switches them rapidly. The other is the design of a jet configuration and control system that augments stability and achieves high maneuverability. A nonlinear hydrodynamic model is formulated, and its linearized dynamics are analyzed to attain insights into how jet direction influences controllability and stability. A prototype vehicle is built and used to verify these concepts. The integrated design method is implemented and shown to achieve stable motions, high maneuverability, and multidirectional capability.

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Robotics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:30 ,  Issue: 2 )