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A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for

ship steering

E Omerdic and GN Roberts, University of Wales College, New-

port, UK, and Z Vukic, University of Zagreb, Faculty of Electrical

Engineering and Computing, Zagreb, Croatia

In this paper a non-linear fuzzy autopilot for ship track-keeping is presented. The proposed

autopilot has four inputs (actual and desired heading, rate of change of heading and offset

from the desired path) and one output (command rudder angle). The track-keeping

problem is decomposed into two subtasks: (i) follow the desired heading, and (ii) bring the

ship onto the desired path and keep tracking. Internally, the autopilot consists of two

autopilots that fulfil these tasks simultaneously. The proposed control scheme has been

verified using a non-linear model of a Mariner-class vessel and steering mechanism under

the influence of wave and current disturbances. Results presented show how such a control

strategy enables improved tracking performance.

INTRODUCTION

T

he pioneering work of Sperry

1

and Minorski

2

is consid-

ered as the important milestones in the development of

automatic steering for ships. Although the early autopilots

were very simple devices, in which heading error pro-

duced a corrective signal for the steering mechanism (ie propor-

tional control), experience with such devices indicated that due

to the ships enhanced course-keeping qualities there was a

reduction in propulsion losses and a consequent saving in fuel

costs. Further developments included the addition of derivative

of heading error to improve transient response, and integral of

Zoran Vukic is Professor of Control Engineering at the University

of Zagreb, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing.

Between 1992 and 1996 he was Head of the Department of

Control and Computer Engineering in Automation, University of

Zagreb. His specific interests have been adaptive control, robust

control, identification, non-linear control, fault tolerant control

and reconfigurable control. He is currently working in the area of

intelligent and fault tolerant control for marine and underwater

vehicles. He is a Chapter Chair of IEEE Control Systems/Robotics

and Automation Society in Croatia, a member of IEEE Control

Systems society and Oceanic engineering society, and a member

of several IFAC Technical Committees.

AUTHORS' BIOGRAPHIES

Edin Omerdic graduated from the University of Zagreb, Faculty

of Electrical Engineering and Computing, Croatia in 1997, and

received the MS degree in electrical engineering (automatic

control) from the same university in 2001. He is currently a full-

time research student in the Mechatronics Research Centre, at

the University of Wales College, Newport. UK. His thesis concerns

the development of fault detection and data handling systems for

underwater vehicles. This research programme is being undertaken

as part of the EPSRC IMPROVES project.

Geoff Roberts is Professor of Mechatronics and Head of the

Mechatronics Research Centre at the University of Wales College,

Newport. UK. He has been active in the area of marine control

systems for many years and has contributed to the development

of control strategies for ship steering, rudder roll stabilisation,

integrated rudder/fin roll stabilisation and guidance and control of

underwater vehicles. He is presently working on fault detection

and data handling for underwater vehicles, parallel multi mode

controllers for ship stabilisation, and applications of intelligent

control for guidance and control of land and marine vehicles. He

is immediate past chairman of the IFAC Technical Committee on

Marine Systems and a member of the IFAC Technical Committee

on Mechatronic Systems.

24 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology No. A2

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

heading error to counteract constant yaw disturbances such as

crosswinds and tide.

Because of their simplicity, reliability and low cost, PID

(proportional, integral and derivative) autopilots of this type have

remained in use for many years. This is despite the widely held

view that the steering characteristics of a PID controller were

unsatisfactory, mainly due to the necessity for user adjustment

to accommodate changes in ship loading conditions and the

operating environment. The huge increase in world fuel costs in

the early 70s, however, led to the development and application of

more advanced control methods to meet the urgent need to

minimise transportation costs. The majority of researchers at that

time favoured an optimal control approach and a number of

solutions were proposed, eg Broom and Lambert

3

, Clarke

4

, and

Kabeti and Byrne

5

. Although using these approaches it was

possible to optimise performance to meet specific objectives, their

main failing was that like their PID counterparts they were

largely unable to cope with the significant non-linearities encoun-

tered. Other approaches, which gained some limited popularity

at the same time, were autopilots based upon adaptive methods

such as model-reference

6

and self-tuning.

7

More recently, re-

searchers have attempted to combine the attributes of adaptive

and optimal control, designing robust autopilots using the H

methodology.

8

However, despite the attractiveness of these more

rigorous approaches very few designs have resulted in actual

implementation.

This lack of real success led many researchers to consider

whether the use of intelligent paradigms such as fuzzy logic and

artificial neural networks would be suitable for design or as the

implemented technology for ships autopilots. In this respect

fuzzy logic, with its origins in human reasoning, was considered

as a most suitable candidate having the potential to replicate

experienced helmsmen thereby producing a robust and non-

linear autopilot.

The first autopilot designed with fuzzy set theory was pre-

sented by Amerongen et al.

9

The proposed autopilot used two

different inputs with five linguistic variables and a fixed rule base.

It was shown that compared to a PID controller, the proposed

fuzzy autopilot gave a significantly enhanced performance in a

noisy environment with fewer rudder calls. However, the tuning

of the fuzzy controller parameters was based on an extended trial

and error procedure. This pioneering work was quickly followed

by complementary investigations. A different application of fuzzy

set theory was pursued by Sutton

10

where fuzzy logic was used to

design a cognitive model of a helmsman, and it was suggested that

the fuzzy model so produced could be used in the design of

intelligent autopilots based on fuzzy set theory. However, in order

to guarantee acceptable performances in different operating con-

ditions, the proposed controller needed further adjustment. The

manual setting of the controller parameters was enhanced with

the introduction of automatic adaptation and learning mecha-

nisms. One of the first examples in this direction was the self-

organising fuzzy autopilot proposed in Sutton and Jess.

11

The first

commercially available fuzzy autopilot, designed with the latter

approach, was presented by Polkinghorne et al.

12,13,14

One of the main advantages of fuzzy logic autopilots is that the

rules may be formulated without a precise definition of the ships

dynamics. The control actions are normally decided such that the

required rudder demand is determined from knowledge of the

expected ships response to the input. Although this process is

best achieved through consultation with the helmsman or by

observation of his/her actions, the fuzzy rules may be formulated

from an understanding of the systems dynamical behaviour. This

process illustrates the fundamental difference of fuzzy controller

design compared with more traditional model-based controller

designs. Whereas the latter is concerned with designs to meet

performance specifications, ie damping, speed of response, steady-

state error, etc, fuzzy controller design is focused on predicting

system behaviour in response to specific inputs, as postulated by

Sperry

1

and Minorski

2

following their observations of the helms-

man. What this means is that, often, fuzzy approaches are

application specific and the final fuzzy controller is often arrived

at after considerable trial and error where the distribution and

shape of the fuzzy sets used are tuned in order to achieve the

desired performance. However it should be noted that fuzzy

controllers are intrinsically robust, in the sense that through the

generalisation property they can accommodate new situations (ie

small changes in system parameters). They are also non-linear, in

that they incorporate (map) the functional relationship between

input and output, which is a non-linear relationship.

It was this analysis, together with the increased activity in

intelligent systems, which led to the work described in this paper

being undertaken. The remainder of the paper is organised as

follows: the evolution of the proposed autopilot from the initial

research is briefly described before the mathematical model is

introduced. Then the course-keeping and track-keeping prob-

lems are addressed. Finally, simulation results are presented,

followed by some conclusions.

Evolution of the fuzzy autopilot

Initially the research described herein concentrated on the design

of a simple course-keeping system where a fuzzy autopilot with

two inputs (heading error and rate of change of heading) was used

to find control action (command rudder angle). Every input had

seven membership functions and the total number of rules was 7

2

,

ie 49. The control surface of the proposed fuzzy autopilot was a

non-linear function of the two input variables, symmetrical to a

non-principal diagonal of the rule table. The proposed control

scheme gave better performance compared to PID autopilot, and

command signals generated by fuzzy autopilot were similar to

commands generated by an experience helmsman. This latter

point is important because it demonstrated how the fuzzy control-

lers encapsulate and replicate the actions of skilled operators,

which in this application is the helmsman.

The next stage of the research used this system as a basic

building block for developing the track-keeping system. In Vukic

et al

15

, the first version of fuzzy autopilot for track-keeping was

proposed. The track-keeping problem, defined as tracking the

path specified by way points, has been simplified to course-

tracking problem using appropriate transformation. In this way

the track-keeping problem was solved using the fuzzy course-

keeping autopilot. This solution had a good performance if sea

current disturbance did not act on the ship during manoeuvres.

It was found that, in the presence of the current disturbance, the

ship would follow the desired course with some offset from the

desired path, depending on the direction and intensity of current.

One of the possibilities for improving the performance sug-

gested in Vukic et al

15

was introducing an additional input (offset

from the desired path) to enhance the information presented to

the autopilot. In Vukic et al

16

an improved fuzzy autopilot for

track-keeping was proposed, which uses three inputs (heading

error, rate of change of heading and offset from the desired path)

25

No. A2 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

and direction of sea current. The outputs are yaw angle, yaw

velocity and position in x and y directions.

Steering Mechanism

The steering mechanism considered is the two-loop electro-

hydraulic steering subsystem, common on many ships. A concep-

tual and equivalent block diagram of the steering mechanism is

shown in Fig 1. This type of steering mechanism consists of an

electro-hydraulic servo subsystem with a telemotor and a rudder

subsystem. It can be seen that the system has two feedback loops:

one from the cylinders of the telemotor, and the other from the

hydraulic amplifier. The first loop includes a non-linear element

of type relay with dead zone and hysteresis (to reduce rudder

activity in the presence of a high frequency component in the

command signal). The second loop contains a non-linear element

of type speed limiter (to limit rapid changes of rudder motion).

The presence of these non-linear elements makes the design of the

autopilot more difficult (see Fig 1).

Typical values of parameters shown in Fig 1 (b) are:

DB 1

,

H 0 8 .

,

K 4 / s

,

PB 7

and

N 5 / s

.

Disturbances

There are several disturbances with various effects on the vessel

dynamics to be taken into account.

15,20

Three classes of distur-

bances can be distinguished:

Disturbances which affect the dynamics of the system, eg

the depth of water.

Disturbances which cause additional signals in the sys-

tem, eg waves.

Disturbances that corrupt the measurements, eg noise in

the position measurements.

In this paper the disturbances considered are wind-generated

waves and sea currents.

Wind-generated waves

Pierson and Moskowitz

21

developed the standard wave spectra

(PM-spectrum) analysing the wave spectra in the North Atlantic

Ocean, (Fossen

17

, pages 63-65). In order to simulate wave

disturbance, it is necessary to approximate the PM-spectrum.

Linear wave model approximations are usually preferred by ship

control system engineers, owing to their simplicity. Linear ap-

proximation is obtained by passing of white noise through a linear

filter.

The second-order wave transfer function approximation of the

PM-spectrum is used in this paper (Fossen

17

, pages 70-71). This

model is written as

h s

K s

s s

( )

+ +

2

0 0

2

2 . (1)

A linear state-space model can be obtained by transforming

this expression to the time-domain by:

d y

dt

dy

dt

y K

d

dt

h

2

2 0 0

2

2 + +

. (2)

Defining

dx

dt

x

1

2

and x y

2

, the state-space model can

be written as:

dx

dt

dx

dt

x

x K

h

1

2

0

2

0

1

2

0 1

2

0

,

,

,

,

]

]

]

]

]

,

,

]

]

]

,

,

]

]

]

,

,

]

]

]

, (3)

in order to find the appropriate command rudder angle. The main

idea was in shifting the control surface of the previously developed

two-input fuzzy autopilot out of a non-principal diagonal depend-

ing on the value and sign of the offset. This means that if the ship

is already on the desired path, the offset is zero and there is no

shifting, the standard control surface is optimal and the ship

would track the desired course specified by the way points. If the

ship is not on the desired path, the offset is not zero and the

control surface is shifted out of the non-principal diagonal,

proportional to the size and sign of offset. The advantage of this

approach was rejection of the influence of the current disturbance

on the tracking performance, whilst disadvantages were a loss of

the transparency of the control decision process and an increase

in the autopilots complexity (number of membership functions

per input was seven, seven and five, so total number of rules was

245).

In order to decrease complexity and to make a decision

process more understandable, the track-keeping problem is de-

composed into two subtasks: (i) following the desired heading,

and (ii) bringing the ship onto desired path and tracking. There-

fore, the autopilot for track-keeping, proposed in this paper,

consists internally of two autopilots that fulfil these tasks simul-

taneously. Each of these autopilots has a simple structure and

operates similar to human reasoning.

MATHEMATICAL MODELS

Experimenting with a real ship is time-consuming and expensive,

so a dynamic model is essential for simulation purposes and for

investigation of different control algorithms. In order to investi-

gate different approaches for design of track-keeping control

systems it is necessary to use a realistic model of the vessel and

disturbances. In this paper the models of a Mariner-class vessel,

steering mechanism, wave/current disturbances and Notch filter

as in Fossen

17

, Vukic et al

16

and Omerdic

18

are used.

Ship dynamics

The hydro- and aerodynamics laboratory in Lyngby, Denmark,

has performed both planar motion mechanism (PMM) tests and

full-scale steering and manoeuvring predictions for a Mariner-

class vessel. The main data and dimensions of the Mariner-class

vessel are given in Table 1, Chislett and Strm-Tejsen.

19

Table 1: The main data for the Mariner-class vessel .

Using results from PMM tests, Fossen has built a non-linear

mathematical model for this vessel in MATLAB. The model is

given in Fossen

17

, Appendix E.1.1, and describes the dynamic

motion of the ship in a horizontal plane. For the work described

in this paper, the original model was transformed to Simulink S-

function and augmented with the ability to investigate the influ-

ence of external disturbances, for example, sea currents. The

inputs to the model are commanded rudder angle, average speed

Length overall (L

oa

) 171.80m

Length between perpendiculars (L

pp

) 160.93m

Maximum beam (B) 23.17m

Design draught (T) 8.23m

Design displacement () 18 541m

3

Design speed (u

0

) 15 knots = 7.72m/s

26 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology No. A2

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

2. Actual heading .

3. The rate of change of heading r d / dt (measured by

gyro rate sensor).

4. Offset from the desired path d (this input is important for

the track-keeping problem; for the course-keeping prob-

lem this input is equal to zero).

Generally, the command signal

c

, generated by the autopi-

lot, consists of two components:

dc

1

, generated by two input controller Fuzzy Autopilot

(Course).

dc

2

, generated by one input controller Autopilot (Off-

set).

Signal dc

1

is intended for course-keeping. Signal dc

2

is used for

returning the ship to the desired path for the track-keeping

problem.

Fuzzy autopilot (Course)

The preprocessor performs signal conditioning (scaling and

saturation) of inputs e and r onto standard interval [ ] 3 3 , .

After preprocessing, the signals e and r are internally marked

as linguistic variables error and errordot inside the autopilot,

and the output is marked as a linguistic variable y . For

example, signal e is scaled by gain K

e

and then passed

through the saturation block with limits [ ] 3 3 , . Hence, the

relationship between error (output of the saturation block)

and e is

error

e

e e

e

e

e e

e

>

<

3 3

3

3 3

,

,

,

K

K K

K

. (10)

The postprocessor performs denormalisation and PI

transformation of output y . PI transformation is per-

formed by generating proportional and (limited) integral

components inside the Postprocessing block. Summing

these components gives the signal dc

1

, the command

signal for the rudder angle

c

in the course-keeping

problem.

Membership functions for inputs error and errordot and

output y are shown in Fig 3(a) and (b), respectively. Fig 3(b)

displays the control surface of the Fuzzy autopilot (Course),

while the properties are shown in Table 2.

Table 2: 'Fuzzy autopilot (Course)' properties.

The fuzzy autopilot for course-keeping uses 7 49

2

rules.

Table 3 shows these rules in a compact matrix form.

where

h is a zero-mean white noise process. Due to its simplic-

ity, this model is useful for control systems design.

The second order Notch filter is used to reject the wave-

induced components from the heading signal. The transfer func-

tion of the Notch filter has a form (Fossen

17

, pages 226-227):

h s

s s

s

NO

n n

n

( )

( )

+ +

+

2 2

2

2

,

(4)

where

n

is the natural frequency and is the relative damping

factor of the filter. Since most of the energy in the wave spectrum

is located around the modal frequency of the wave spectrum, the

natural frequency of the Notch filter should be chosen equal to the

encounter frequency

e

, that is:

n e

. (5)

An estimate of the encounter frequency

e

can be computed

from the relation

e

g

U

0

0

2

cos

, (6)

where

0

is wave modal frequency, g is the acceleration of

gravity, U is the total speed of ship and is the angle between

the heading and the direction of the wave. The modal frequency

0

of the PM-spectrum can be estimated from

w

g

V

g

H

s

0

0.88 0.40

(7)

where

V

is the speed of the wind at an elevation of 19.4m and

H

s

is the significant wave height.

Sea current

A two-dimensional current model is used (Fossen

17

, page 88).

The earth-fixed current components can be described by two

parameters: average current speed V

c

and direction of current

c. The

body-fixed components can be computed from:

u

c

V

c

cos

c

v

c

V

c

sin

c

( )

( )

.

(8)

The average current velocity for computer simulations can be

generated by using the first-order Gauss-Markov process (Fossen

17

,

page 89), described by the following differential equation:

dV t

dt

V t t

c

c G

( )

( ) ( ) +

0

,

(9)

where

G

t

( ) is a zero mean Gaussian white noise sequence and

0

0 is a constant. This process must be limited

V V t V

c min max

( ) ( ) in order to simulate realistic sea currents.

Course-keeping

A closed-loop control system with fuzzy autopilot for ship course-

keeping (Fig 2a) was successfully applied in Vukic et al

16

, and

Omerdic.

18

This structure will serve as a basic scheme for building

more complex control algorithms.

Fuzzy autopilot

A fuzzy autopilot has four inputs (see Fig 2(b)):

1. Desired heading

d

(error signal e

d

is gener-

ated internally).

FIS type Mamdani

# Inputs 2

# Outputs 1

AND method min

OR method max

Implication min

Aggregation max

Defuzzification centroid

27

No. A2 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

Table 3: Rule base for the 'Fuzzy autopilot (Course)'

error

Track-keeping

A closed-loop control system with a fuzzy autopilot for ship track-

keeping is shown in Fig 4, which is the control scheme for course-

keeping, shown in Fig 2, augmented by an additional control-loop

with position feedback.

Fuzzy autopilot

The fuzzy autopilot consists of two autopilots: one is responsible

for course-keeping (defined implicitly by way points) and the

other for minimising the offset from the desired path, ie the

autopilot is the same as in Fig 2(b), but in this case the fourth

input d (distance between ship and nominal path) is not equal to

zero. This input plays an important role in control process.

Generally, the ship trajectory consists of n way points

WP P P P

n

1 2

, , ..., with coordinates P x y

i i i

( )

, . It is assumed

that the ship should move along a straight line between adjacent

way points. In this paper the simplest trajectory, with only two

points P x y

1 1 1

( )

, and P x y

2 2 2

( )

, , is considered (see Fig

5(a)). It is assumed that at time t the ship is located at point

S x y

( )

0 0

, . The desired path is a straight line from

P

1

to P

2

.

Course-keeping problems

Problem formulation: Change ship course from 0 to

d

2

30

Control goal e

d t

( )

2

0

Fuzzy autopilot (Course): Status: Active

Inputs: e

d

and r

Output: dc

1

Fuzzy autopilot (Offset): Status: Not active

Input: d 0

Output: dc

2

0

Command signal:

c

dc

1

Track-keeping problem

Problem formulation: Follow the desired path

PP

1 2

defined by way points P

1

0 0

( )

,

and P

2

2000 1154 7

( )

, . .

d

PP

1

1 2

30

( )

arg

Control goal Tracking problem is decomposed in two subtasks:

e

d t

( )

1

0, (i)

d distance

( , ) Ship PP

t 1 2

0 (ii)

Fuzzy autopilot (Course): Status: Active

Inputs: e

d

and r

Output: dc

1

Fuzzy autopilot (Offset): Status: Active

Input: d

Output: dc

2

Command signal:

c

dc dc +

1 2

The distance (offset) d of point S from the desired path

PP

1 2

can be calculated from:

d sign x x y y x x y y

y y x x x y x y y x

y y x x

+ +

+

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) [ ]

( ) ( )

( ) ( )

2 1 0 1 0 1 2 1

2 1 0 2 1 0 1 2 1 2

2 1

2

2 1

2

.

(11)

The sign of d is defined with an angle between vectors

PS

1 and

PP

1 2

: if the ship is located on the left (right) side from PP

1 2

, sign is

a plus (minus). In (11) the sign is estimated with a sign function.

Inside the fuzzy autopilot offset d is normalised with the ship

length L:

d

L

.

(12)

The goal is to bring the ship back from point S and to track

the desired path.

The difference between course-keeping and track-keeping is

visible from Fig 5(b). It is assumed that at t 0 the ship is located

at point P

1

0 0 ( ) , (moving with a constant speed in the x -

direction, ie initial heading is 0

o

) and the desired course is

d

2

30 for the course-keeping. The requirement is to change

the ship course from the initial value 0 to the new value 30. For

track-keeping, it is assumed that the desired path is defined by

way points P

1

0 0

( )

, and

P

2

3000 3000 30 3000 1732 1

( )

( )

, tan , . . In order to

compare course-keeping and track-keeping, the same angle

arg PP

d d 1 2

1 2

was chosen. It is needed to bring the ship

back to the desired path, ie condition d 0 should be satisfied,

Table 4: Comparison between course-keeping and track-keeping

NB NM NS ZE PS PM PB

NB NB NB NB NB NM NS ZE

NM NB NB NB NM NS ZE PS

errordot NS NB NB NM NS ZE PS PM

ZE NB NM NS ZE PS PM PB

PS NM NS ZE PS PM PB PB

PM NS ZE PS PM PB PB PB

PB ZE PS PM PB PB PB PB

28 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology No. A2

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

and to track the desired path to point P

2

, following the desired

course

d

1

. Therefore, for the course-keeping problem, the

decision about the size of command rudder signal

c

is made

using an error signal e

d

and a signal r

. However, for

the track-keeping problem, the decision process is more complex,

because in addition to signals e and r , another signal d (offset

from the desired path) plays an important role. A comparison of

course-keeping and track-keeping problems is given in Table 4.

Therefore, for track-keeping, the goal is to track the desired course

d

1

(Condition (i)) and to minimise d at the same time (Condition

(ii)). In order to satisfy these conditions, signals dc

1

(realisation of

Condition (i)) and dc

2

(realisation of Condition (ii)) are added so that

the composite signal dc dc dc

1 2

+ should achieve both conditions

simultaneously. Signal

dc

1

is already known from course-keeping

problem. Hence, the problem can be formulated as a question: What

is the mathematical form of unknown relationship dc dc

2 2

( )

?

Autopilot (Offset)

This section describes a structure of the Autopilot (Offset). This

autopilot has input d and output

dc

2

. Analysing Fig 5(b) it can

be concluded that the sign of signal dc

2

depends on the ship

position in relation to the desired path:

If the ship is located on the left side, then d 0 > . It can be

easily verified that a positive command signal produces a positive

course change. Hence, signal dc

2

should have a positive sign,

because it will produce an increase of the command signal and the

ship will have a course greater than that desired for some time (for

example, at point A is

A d

>

1

). In this way the ship will

approach the desired path and offset d will decrease.

Because of symmetry, it is easy to draw the conclusion

that, if the ship is located on the right side, then signal dc

2

should

have negative sign.

If the ship is located on the desired track, ie if d 0 , then

signal dc

2

should be equal to zero, ie dc

2

0 .

Therefore, the unknown function dc dc

2 2

( )

is a continuous

odd function, defined in the first and third quadrant and which

satisfies condition dc

2

0 0

( )

.

The unknown odd function dc dc

2 2

( )

is selected from the

family of functions F

dc K sf

2 eta

( )

tanh , (13)

where K

eta

> 0 and sf > 0 are scaling factors. Function defined

by equation (13) satisfies all required conditions. Family F is

chosen because many different shapes of functions can be gener-

ated with appropriate selection of scaling factors (Fig 6(a) and

(b)). Optimal values for K

eta

and sf were obtained by undertak-

ing a number of simulations ( K

eta

20 and sf 4 3 . ).

SIMULATION RESULTS

The proposed control architecture has been implemented in

SIMULINK. Simulations were performed using the non-linear

model of a Mariner-class vessel and the steering mechanism,

described earlier. In order to demonstrate robustness of the

proposed autopilot for course-keeping, two different desired

headings were chosen one with a small deviation from the initial

heading (

d

10 ) and the other with a large deviation (

d

30 ).

A course-changing manoeuvre, performed by an expert ship

operator (experienced helmsman), is shown in Fig 7 (Amerongen

22

)

and can be used for comparison purposes. Later it will be shown

that the fuzzy autopilot generates signals similar to an experienced

helmsman.

Fig 8 displays time response of heading and rudder signals for

two different cases:

d

10 (left) and

d

30 (right). Fig 8 (1)

shows the time responses for the no-disturbances case. It can be

seen that the performance of the proposed autopilot is very good,

heading response is without overshoot and command rudder

signals are very similar to those produced by an experienced

helmsman. The influence of the waves with the modal frequency

0

1 rad s / and the encounter angle 30 is demonstrated in

Fig 8 (2). Here the heading signal, obtained by gyrocompass, is

contaminated with wave components and the Notch filter was not

used to reject them. Control effort is much higher than in the no-

disturbance case. Filtering of the heading signal Fig 8 (3) gives good

performance with acceptable control effort. Although the Notch

filter introduces some delay into the control loop, demands on

actuator are less than without filtering. Analysing responses in Fig

8 and other cases (not shown here) it is concluded that the

proposed fuzzy autopilot with fixed parameters has good perform-

ance over all range of the possible heading demands, ie it is not

needed to tune any of its parameters if desired heading is changed.

This is not case for the PID autopilot. Experiments similar to those

shown in Fig 8 were conducted with PID autopilot. PID tuned for

the case

d

10 could not give good performance for the case

d

30 and vice versa. Beside that, the best-tuned PID was

inferior to the fuzzy autopilot for the same input reference and the

command signals generated by the PID controller were not similar

to those produced by an experienced helmsman.

Fig 9(a) shows time responses for track-keeping without

disturbances. It is assumed that at t 0 the ship is located at point

P

1

0 0

( )

, and moves with a constant speed in x -direction. The

desired path is defined by way points P

1

0 0

( )

, and

P

2

3000 3000 30 3000 1732 1

( ) ( )

, tan , . . The ships trajec-

tory, way points and the desired path are shown on the same plot.

At the beginning of the simulation the ship moves in x -direction

and its distance from the desired path temporally increases. The

fuzzy autopilot (Offset) responds to this by generating high signal

dc

2

in order to return the ship back to the desired path. Soon the

distance achieves maximum and decreases rapidly. At the same

time, the fuzzy autopilot (Course) generates signal dc

1

trying to

force the ship to follow the desired heading. When the ship is

returned to the path, signal dc

2

vanishes and signal dc

1

begins

to dominate. Simulations with way points located in all four

quadrants were performed and good performance has been

achieved in all cases. Influence of the wave disturbances on the

performance of track-keeping is demonstrated in Fig 9(b). In this

case the Notch filter was not used to reject wave components in

the heading signal and control demand on rudder is much higher

than in the no-disturbance case. Better performance and better

response is achieved by filtering the heading signal (Fig 9(c)).

Control effort is lower and at the same time accuracy is better. The

influence of the sea currents is shown in Fig 10(a). In this case,

after the ship reaches the desired path, there is a small offset on

the right side of the path, but soon the ship is returned to the path

and continues sailing with very small tracking error, despite the

presence of the strong sea currents. Fig 10 (b) presents time

responses in the case of waves and sea currents. The heading

signal, contaminated by the wave components, is not filtered and,

simultaneously, strong sea currents act on the ship as is indicated

on the plot. Similar to the previous case, there is a small overshoot

29

No. A2 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

on the right side of the path but, in this case, control demands on

the rudder are very high. Better performance and acceptable

control effort can be obtained by filtering the heading signal, as it

is shown in Fig 10(c). In this case the same disturbances (waves

and currents) act on the ship during the manoeuvre, but the fuzzy

autopilot performs its task in a satisfactory manner, command

signals are in the acceptable bounds and tracking error is small.

CONCLUSION

This paper described a new fuzzy autopilot for ship track-keeping.

The proposed autopilot has four inputs (actual and desired

heading, rate of change of heading and offset from the desired

path) and one output (command rudder angle). Track-keeping

problem is decomposed into two subtasks: (i) follow the desired

heading, and (ii) bring the ship onto desired path and keep

tracking. Internally, the autopilot consists of two autopilots that

fulfilled these tasks simultaneously. Each of the autopilots has a

simple internal structure, designed by copying the reasoning and

behaviour of the experienced helmsman. The process of generat-

ing the action signals is transparent and understandable. Satura-

tion of the actuator (steering mechanism) is avoided and com-

mand signals, produced by fuzzy autopilot and experienced

helmsman, are very similar.

The proposed control scheme has been successfully verified

using a non-linear model of the Mariner-class vessel and steering

mechanism under the influence of wave and current distur-

bances. Performance of the proposed control scheme has been

investigated under different conditions. In the case when the

waves and sea currents act on the ship, the unavoidable loss in

control performance and control effort was found to be acceptable

if a Notch filter is used to reject wave components from the

heading signal. Hence, in order to reduce the effects of the wave

disturbance on the tracking performance, the recommendation is

to use a Notch filter with a natural frequency equal to the

encounter frequency according to equations (5)-(7).

Further improvement of the proposed control scheme could

be achieved by replacing Autopilot (Offset) with an equivalent

Adaptive Neuro-Fuzzy Inference System (ANFIS, Jang et al

23

)

network. ANFIS belongs to the family of adaptive networks and

has ability and flexibility for on-line fine-tuning. The starting point

for tuning could be the approximation of the function y

( )

tanh .

The local shape of this function could be tuned using the on-line

training capabilities of ANFIS.

REFERENCES

1. Sperry, EA, (1922). Automatic Steering, Trans. Society of

Naval Architects and Marine Engineers pp 53-61.

2. Minorski, N, (1922). Directional stability of automatically

steered bodies, Journal of American Society of Naval Engineers,

Vol.34 pp 280-309.

3. Broom, DR, and Lambert, TM, (1978). An optimising

function for adaptive ships autopilot. Fifth Ship Control Sympo-

sium, Bethesda. Vol. 3.

4. Clarke, D, (1980). Development of a cost function for autopi-

lot design, Ship steering and Automatic Control, Genoa. pp. 59-

77.

5. Katebi, MR, and Byrne, JC, (1988). LQG adaptive ship

autopilot, Institute of Measurement and Control Transactions,

Vol.10, No.4, pp 187-197.

6. Amerongen, JV, and Udink Ten Cate, AJ, (1975). Model

reference adaptive autopilots for ships, Automatica, Vol.11, pp. 441-

449.

7. Mort, N, (1983). Autopilot design for surface ship steering

using self-tuning controller algorithms. PhD Thesis, University of

Sheffield, UK.

8. Grimble, MJ, Zhang, Y, and Katebi, MR, (1993). H-based

autopilot design. 10th Ship Control Systems Symposium, Ottawa.

pp. 2.51-2.56.

9. Amerongen, JV, Naute Lenke, HR, and Veen der Van, JCT,

(1977). An autopilot for ships designed by with fuzzy sets. Proc. IFAC

Conference on Digital Computer Applications to Process Con-

trol. The Hague. pp 479-487.

10. Sutton, R, (1987). Fuzzy set models of the helmsman steering

a ship in course-keeping and course-changing modes. PhD thesis,

University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology.

11. Sutton, R, and Jess, IM, (1991). A design study of a self-

organising fuzzy autopilot for ship control. Proceedings I, Institution

of Mechanical Engineers. 205, pp 35-47.

12. Polkinhorne, MN, Roberts, GN, Burns, RS, and Winwood,

D, (1995). The implementation of fixed rulebase fuzzy logic to the

control of small surface ships. Control Engineering Practice, 3 (3),

pp 321-328.

13. Polkinhorne, MN, Roberts, GN, and Burns, RS, (1997a).

Consideration of performance assessment criteria required for a self-

organising fuzzy-logic autopilot. Proc. 11th. Ship Control Systems

Symposium:, Southampton. Vol.1. pp. 151-159.

14. Polkinhorne, MN, Roberts, GN, and Burns, RS, (1997b).

Intelligent ship control with online learning ability. Computing and

Control Engineering Journal, 8 (5), pp 196-200.

15. Vukic, Z, Omerdic, E, and Kuljaca, LJ, (1997). Fuzzy

Autopilot for Ships Experiencing Shallow Water Effect in Maneuvering,

4th IFAC (International Federation of Automatic Control) Con-

ference on Maneuvering and Control of Marine Craft, 10-12

September, Brijuni, Croatia.

16. Vukic, Z, Omerdic, E, and Kuljaca, LJ, (1998). Improved

Fuzzy Autopilot for Track-Keeping. IFAC Conference CAMS98,

Fukuoka, Japan, 27-30 October 1998.

17. Fossen, TI, (1994). Guidance and Control of Ocean Vehicles,

John Wiley&Sons, Chichester.

18. Omerdic, E, (2001). Reconfigurable control system for ship

track-keeping. Master Thesis, University of Zagreb, Faculty of

Electrical Engineering and Computing, Croatia.

19. Chislett, S, and Strm-Tejsen, J, (1965). Planar Motion

Mechanism Tests and Full-Scale Steering and Manoeuvring Predic-

tions for a Mariner Class Vessel, Hydro and aerodynamics Labora-

tory, Lyngby, Denmark, Report No. Hy-6, April 1965.

20. Amerongen, JV, (1979). An adaptive autopilot for track-

keeping. Ship Operation Automation, III. Proceedings of the 3

th

IFIP/

IFAC Symp., Tokyo, pp. 105-114.

21 Pierson, JP, and Moskowitz, L. 1964. A proposed spectral

form for fully-developed wind seas based on the Similarity Theory of SA

Kitaigorodskii. Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol 69 No 24.

22. Amerongen, JV, (1980). Model Reference Adaptive Control

Applied to Steering of Ships. Methods and Applications in Adaptive

Control, Proceedings of an Int. Symp., Bochum, Germany, March

20-21, 1980, pp. 199-208.

23. Jang, J-SR, Sun, C-T, and Mizutani, E, (1997). Neuro-Fuzzy

and Soft Computing: A Computational Approach to Learning and Machine

Intelligence, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.

30 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology No. A2

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

NOMENCLATURE

L L

oa

,

Length Overall

DB

Switch on point (steering mechanism)

L

pp

Length between perpendiculars

H

Hysteresis width (steering mechanism)

K

Gain in the telemotor-loop (steering

B

Maximum beam mechanism)

T

Design draft

PB

Limit point in the amplifier-loop (steering

mechanism)

Design displacement

N

Limit value in the amplifier-loop (steering

mechanism)

u

0

Design speed

h

zero-mean white noise process

n

Natural frequency of the Notch filter

e

Encounter frequency

Relative damping factor of the Notch Angle between the heading and the direction

filter of the wave

g Acceleration of gravity H

s

Significant wave height

0

Modal frequency of the PM-

U

Total speed of ship

spectrum

V

c

Average current speed

c

Direction of current

u v

c c

, The body-fixed components of

0

constant (

0

)

current

d

Desired heading

Actual heading

r

d

Distance between ship and desired path

dc

1

Output of the fuzzy autopilot dc

2

Output of the fuzzy autopilot (Offset)

(Course)

c

Command rudder angle

Actual rudder angle

Normalised distance d

error

errordot

y

,

,

Internal normalised variables of the fuzzy

autopilot (Course)

X Y , ( )

Ship co-ordinates obtained from X Y

i i

, ( )

Way points

GPS

K

eta

Gain sf Scaling factor

0

Modal frequency of the PM-

spectrum H

s

Significant wave height

FIGURES

(a)

(b)

Fig 1: (a) Steering mechanism; (b) Block diagram

}

31

No. A2 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

(a)

(b)

Fig 2: (a) Control system for course-

keeping; (b) Internal structure of the

fuzzy autopilot

Fig 3: (a) Membership functions for inputs (error

and errordot) and output (y); (b) Control surface

of the 'Fuzzy autopilot (Course)'.

Fig 4: Control system for track-keeping

32 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology No. A2

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

(a) (b)

Fig 5: (a) Definition of the offset from the desired path d, (b) Comparison between course-keeping and track-keeping

(a)

(b)

Fig 6: Different shapes of functions in F: (a) fixed K

eta

, (b) fixed sf

Fig 7: Course changing manoeuvre, performed by an

experienced helmsman

33

No. A2 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

Fig 8: Course-changing for desired heading 10 (LHS) and 30 (RHS): (1) without waves and filter,

(2) with waves, (3) with waves and filter

34 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology No. A2

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

Fig 9: Track-keeping: (a) without disturbances, (b) with waves, (c) with

waves and filter

35

No. A2 Journal of Marine Engineering and Technology

A fuzzy track-keeping autopilot for ship steering

Fig 10: Track-keeping: (a) with currents, (b) with waves and currents, (c) with waves, filter and currents

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