Design and simulation of a control continuum for tetherless underwater vehicles
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There exists a need for a new class of underwater vehicle that can perform both close control tasks, as well as long-range exploration, without manual reconfiguration. A tetherless underwater vehicle (TUV) with acoustic communications to an operator station has potential to fulfill this need, while also removing much of the operating costs associated with tether management. The problem with TUVs is the limited communications bandwidth and time lag increasing with range from the transmitter. This thesis introduces a new class of controller for TUV vehicles that isolates the operator from the time-varying delay. This isolation is achieved through the formation of a continuum of control comprised of existing control paradigms, such as predictive and autonomous control. A smooth evolution through the continuum is formulated based on the time delay. The resulting controller permits operator close control for extended ranges without manual reconfiguration of the vehicle or controller.