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Open Access Maneuvering Ability-Based Weighted Potential Field Framework for Multi-USV Navigation, Guidance, and Control

This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.


Numerous types of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) are currently available for different applications with a wide spectrum of maneuvering capabilities. We present a generalized multi-USV navigation, guidance, and control framework adaptable to specific USV maneuvering response capabilities for dynamic obstacle avoidance. The proposed method integrates offline optimal path planning with a safety distance constrained A* algorithm, and an online extended adaptively weighted (EAW) artificial potential field-based path following approach with dynamic collision avoidance, based on USV maneuvering response times. The framework adaptively weighs inter-USV interaction, waypoint following, and collision avoidance based on USV maneuvering capabilities. The EAW system allows USVs with fast maneuvering abilities to react late and slow USVs to react sooner to oncoming moving obstacles gradually, with a carefully designed series of repulsive potential with diminishing weighting along the predicted path of detected moving obstacles, such that a smooth path is followed by the USV group with reduced cross-track error and reduced maneuvering effort. We emphasize the importance of such requirements in constrained and busy maritime environments such as narrow channels in busy harbors. Simulation results validate the proposed EAW artificial potential field framework for different sized multi-USV teams showing reduced cross-track error and maneuvering effort compared to the unweighted or traditional approach, for both slow- and fast-maneuvering multi-USV teams.

Keywords: guidance and control; multi-vehicle systems; navigation; unmanned surface vehicles; weighted potential function

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2020

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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