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An adaptive control law for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) is presented. Usually, the control laws are designed with respect to a mathematical model expressed either in the Earth-fixed frame or in the vehicle-fixed frame. These two approaches, however, do not take into account the different origin of the effects that can affect the steady state errors: namely, the restoring generalized forces and the ocean current. With the use of a suitable adaptive action those effects can be properly taken into account as is shown in the paper.