An Autonomous Underwater Vehicle for Validating Internal Actuator Control Strategies

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Virginia Tech

There are benefits to the use of internal actuators for rotational maneuvers of small-scale underwater vehicles. Internal actuators are protected from the outside environment by the external pressure hull and will not disturb the surrounding environment during inspection tasks. Additionally, internal actuators do not rely on the relative fluid motion to exert control moments, therefore they are useful at low speed and in hover. This paper describes the design, fabrication and testing of one such autonomously controlled, internally actuated underwater vehicle.

The Internally Actuated, Modular Bodied, Untethered Submersible (IAMBUS) can be used to validate non-linear control strategies using internal actuators. Vehicle attitude control is provided by three orthogonally mounted reaction wheels. The housing is a spherical glass pressure vessel, which contains all of the components, such as actuators, ballast system, power supply, on-board computer and inertial sensor. Since the housing is spherically symmetric, the hydrodynamics of IAMBUS are uncoupled (e.g. a roll maneuver does not impact pitch or yaw). This hull shape enables IAMBUS to be used as a spacecraft attitude dynamics and control simulator with full rotational freedom.

autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), satellite simulator, reaction wheels, attitude control