Ulysse Vautier


The purpose of this study is to investigate novel methods on model identification, navigation, guidance and control of autonomous sailboats in order to sail robustly and efficiently in a wide variety of situations. The study has focused on the development of a robust platform, a model identification process for sailboats, robust control and path-planning methods. A hardware and software system was developed in order to build a research plat- form on which to experiment. Five sailboats were effectively adapted to be able to sail autonomously. Two one-meter long model sailboats, a two-meter long sailboat, a trimaran and a catamaran were tested using this system. Of which, a one-meter long sailboat was used to test developed model identification and navigation methods. A complex sailboat model identification process has been proposed to be, afterwards, used in Model Predictive Control (MPC) scheme. Moreover, a path-planning method for the shortest-length manoeuvre was proposed using the Dubin’s path. This method was then applied in an area scanning task formulated as a Traveling Salesman Prob- lem. The ability for an autonomous sailboat to be used in a wide range of applications was demonstrated through the design and development of novel control methods, a robust hardware configuration and a modular software system. This study has proven that the autonomous sailboat can be a genuine solution to challenging marine applications by providing a durable, sustainable and highly-controllable platform.

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