Trajectory tracking and path following for underactuated marine vehicles

Claudio Paliotta (Corresponding author), Erjen Lefeber, Kristin Ytterstad Pettersen, Jose Pinto, Maria Costa, Joao Tasso de Figueiredo Borgesde de Sousa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
534 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper, we present a control strategy for trajectory tracking and path following of generic paths for underactuated marine vehicles. Our work is inspired and motivated by previous works on ground vehicles. In particular, we extend the definition of the hand position point, introduced for ground vehicles, to autonomous surface vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles, and then use the hand position point as output for a control strategy based on the input-output feedback linearization method. The presented strategy is able to deal with external disturbances affecting the vehicle, e.g., constant and irrotational ocean currents. Using the Lyapunov analysis, we are able to prove that the closed-loop system has an external dynamics that is globally exponentially stable and an internal dynamics that has ultimately bounded states, both for the trajectory tracking and the path following control problems. Finally, we present a simulation case study and experimental results in order to validate the theoretical results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8367854
Pages (from-to)1423-1437
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Damping
  • Marine vehicles
  • nonlinear dynamical systems
  • Oceans
  • stability analysis
  • Task analysis
  • Trajectory tracking
  • unmanned underwater vehicles
  • Vehicle dynamics
  • vehicle dynamics.


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