Time-optimal path planning for sea-surface vehicles under the effects of strong currents and winds

by Benjamin D Hessels

Institution: MIT
Department: Department of Mechanical Engineering
Year: 2014
Keywords: Mechanical Engineering.
Record ID: 2024653
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/92185


A path-planning methodology that takes into account sea state fields, specifically wind forcing, is discussed and exemplified in this thesis. This general methodology has been explored by the Multidisciplinary Simulation, Estimation, and Assimilation Systems group (MSEAS) at MIT, however this is the first instance of wind effects being taken into account. Previous research explored vessels and isotropy, where the nominal speed of the vessel is uniform in all directions. This thesis explores the non-isotropic case, where the maximum speed of the vessel varies with direction, such as a sailboat. Our goal in this work is to predict the time-optimal path between a set of coordinates, taking into account flow currents and wind speeds. This thesis reviews the literature on a modified level set method that governs the path in any continuous flow to minimize travel time. This new level set method, pioneered by MSEAS, evolves a front from the starting coordinate until any point on that front reaches the destination. The vehicles optimal path is then gained by solving a particle back tracking equation. This methodology is general and applicable to any vehicle, ranging from underwater vessels to aircraft, as it rigorously takes into account the advection effects due to any type of environmental flow fields such as time-dependent currents and dynamic wind fields.