Planning for Autonomous Operation of Unmanned Surface Vehicles
The growing variety and complexity of marine research and application oriented tasks requires unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) to operate fully autonomously over long time horizons even in environments with significant civilian traffic. The autonomous operations of the USV over long time horizons requires a path planner to compute paths over long distances in complex marine environments consisting of hundreds of islands of complex shapes. The available free space in marine environment changes
... er time as a result of tides, environmental restrictions, and weather. Secondly, the maximum velocity and energy consumption of the USV is significantly influenced by the fluid medium flows such as strong currents. Finally, the USV have to operate in an unfamiliar, unstructured marine environment with obstacles of variable dimensions, shapes, and motion dynamics such as other unmanned surface vehicles, civilian boats, shorelines, or docks poses numerous planning challenges. The proposed Ph.D. dissertation explores the above mentioned problems by developing computationally efficient path and trajectory planning algorithms that enables the long term autonomous operation of the USVs. We have developed a lattice-based 5D trajectory planner for the USVs operating in the environment with the congested civilian traffic. The planner estimates collision risk and reasons about the availability of contingency maneuvers to counteract unpredictable behaviors of civilian vessels. Secondly, we present a computationally efficient and optimal algorithm for long distance path planning in complex marine environments using A* search on visibility graphs defined over quad trees. Finally, we present an A* based path planning algorithm with newly developed admissible heuristics for computing energy efficient paths in environment with significant fluid flows. The effectiveness of the planning algorithms is demonstrated in the simulation environments by using systems identified dynamics model of the wave amplitude modular vessel (WAM-V) USV14.