Motion planning and control of a swimming machine

Saroj Saimek, Perry Y. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We propose a practical maneuvering control strategy for an aquatic vehicle (AV) that uses an oscillating foil as a propulsor. The challenge of this problem lies in the need to consider the hydrodynamic interaction as well as the underactuated and non-minimum phase natures of the AV system. The control task is decomposed into the off-line step of motion planning and the on-line step of feedback tracking. Optimal control techniques are used to compute a repertoire of time-scalable and concatenable motion primitives. The complete motion plan is obtained by concatenating time-scaled copies of the primitives. The computed optimal motion plans are regulated by a controller that consists of a cascade of linear quadratic regulator, input-output feedback linearization and sliding mode control. Time-varying linear quadratic controllers can also be time-scaled and concatenated. Therefore, they can be computed beforehand. The proposed strategy has been experimentally validated for both constrained longitudinal only maneuvers and unconstrained longitudinal/lateral maneuvers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-53
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004


  • Aquatic vehicles
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Linear quadratic control
  • Motion planning
  • Motion primitives
  • Optimal control
  • Oscillating foil
  • Swimming machine
  • Time-scaling

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