Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems 25: 79–94, 1999. © 1999 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.


DC Thruster Controller Implementation with Integral Anti-wind up Compensator for Underwater ROV
Electronics and Digital Systems Laboratory, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, 67100 Xanthi, Greece (Received: 26 May 1998; in final form: 30 October 1998) Abstract. This paper presents the implementation and experimental results of different conventional position control schemes for positioning an experimental model, the THETIS Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (UROV). To achieve minimum response time and in order to avoid the so-called Integral Wind-up phenomenon, Proportional-Integral (PI) plus integral antiwind-up compensation is used. Hardware implementation of the design is described and experimental results of a digital position control system over one direction using two dc thrusters fed by four quadrant (PWM-Driven) transistor choppers are given. All control algorithms are implemented using a TI’s Digital Signal Processor (DSP). The actual position and orientation of the vehicle in a 3-D space is derived through a combination of an ultrasonic scanning system, a direction gyrocompass, and a pressure depth sensor. The vehicle’s use at the present stage of development is to perform water pollution measurements. Key words: remotely operated vehicle (ROV), underwater technology, DC thrusters, integral windup compensation, position control.

1. Introduction In the past few years, the use of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) has rapidly increased due to the development of these vehicles to perform operations in deeper and riskier areas where human divers cannot reach. Applications of ROVs include ocean surveying, maintenance and construction of underwater structures, maintenance of nuclear plants, water pollution measurements, etc. [1–6]. The design of a high performance position control system for an ROV is of interest both from the view of motion stabilisation as well as manoeuvring and tracking performance. The dynamic response provided by such controllers should satisfy a set of strict specifications in terms of speed, precision, overshoot, and interactions among the controlled and/or uncontrolled coordinates. The controller should also be able to cope with environmental disturbances, such as sea current and turbulence near subsea structures, normally acting on the ROV. Several ROV controlling methods have been proposed in the literature. It is well known that conventional controllers with fixed gains do not guarantee high

In this paper. uv .80 J. The approach leads to a set of separate designs for the steering. and fuzzy logic has been adopted to control the ballast of Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUV’s) [10]. The configuration of the vehicle is of an open-frame type with buoyant material on its top. LYGOURAS quality response of the overall system when significant changes occur in the vehicle dynamics. The model is a remotely controlled submersible vehicle. Although conventional controllers have some disadvantages as it was mentioned above. ROV Model Structure The ROV system can be described by the following equation: F M = Mij uv ˙ + Aij ωv ˙ ur ˙ . neural network-based controllers for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV’s) have been proposed [9]. Most of the above control schemes. M are the external forces and moments. N. the state-feedback Variable Structure Control (VSC) algorithm gives better results since precise modelling of the ROV is not needed and unmodelled perturbations can be effectively rejected [7.4 m long underwater ROV using DC thrusters (combination of DC motor with a propeller) has been constructed. Recently. hydrodynamic tests provide the only way to determine the derivatives which are necessary for the evaluations of manoeuvrability. to eliminate offset provoked by step disturbance by means of the integral action of the inner loop [7]. 2. are not implemented in real ROV models and their performance is verified only by simulation. and speed control systems. It consists of an inner velocity control loop and an outer positioncontrol loop.e. So. ωr ˙ (1) where F. rectangular in shape and composed of a Ferrum-Aluminum framework which encloses and supports all components. they are preferable in many cases due to the simplicity of implementation. diving. the P-PI controller with an integral antiwind-up compensator has been used for position control of an ROV for every degree of freedom. the conventional linear P-PI controller is preferable for its simplicity and has been shown to give good results in position control. Most of the controlling methods are designed on the basis to reduce the inherent coupling between the vehicle response modes that naturally exist in ROVs. 8]. Another advantage of the P-PI controller is its ability to reject step disturbances. Among the variety of possible control strategies proposed in the relevant papers. An experimental model. and it is very difficult to estimate its hydrodynamic characteristics by computation. however. at least when the vehicle parameters are constant and no external disturbance exists. i. 1. The water flow around the vehicle of this type is complex. On the other hand.. Simulations are then executed based on the dynamics of the vehicle to illustrate the robustness and validity of the concept. Mij is the basic inertia matrix of the vehicle. Aij is the added inertia matrix (including the added moments of inertia and cross coupling terms such as force coefficients due to angular acceleration). two of them.

v0 . Given an operating point: x0 = (u0 . and Fti is thrust of the ith thruster. v and w denote the three components of the absolute translational velocity in the Oxyz system attached to the centre of the mass of the vehicle. hover). φ]T . The nonlinear model describing an ROV can be written as follows [12. gravity force Fg . When the dynamics of the ROV and the thrusters are considered. t20 . 13]: x = f (x. ˙ (5) For the ROV model. u) . f2 (x1 . In fact the model is similar in structure to the models for objects which are not underwater. for example. q and . Thus. and ur . if the external forces due to the cable are to be considered. t60 )T . Thus: F = Ff + Fg + Ft + Fc = Ff + Fb + Fw + Fti + Fc . (2) where Fb is the buoyancy. thrust Ft and the tension Fc of the tether cable at the cable termination point.DC THRUSTER CONTROLLER FOR UNDERWATER ROV 81 and wv are the linear and angular velocity of the vehicle. a number of force models can be found in the literature [11]. hence. w0 . This is the general model for the ROV system. ϕ. a small variation around this can be approximated by a linear model usually written as: δ x = (∂f/∂x) ˙ x=x0 u=u0 δx + (∂f/∂u) x=x0 u=u0 δu (4) where x0 and u0 are nominal output and input which satisfy: x0 = f (x0 . u). when a control system for the thrusters of an ROV is to be designed one must take into account all the existing nonlinearities. t30 . the state is defined by x1 = [u v w p q r]T and x2 = ˙ ˙ ˙ [ϑ. p0 . and u is the input. The main difference is caused by the presence of the additional mass and the drag forces for underwater vehicles. x2 ) (6) where u. The general ROV model is simplified by many authors not considering. x2 . even when the craft dynamics is assumed to be linear (for instance. a complex nonlinear system is obtained. wr are the linear and angular velocity with respect to the fluid. q0 . respectively. However. u0 ). the cable tension Fc (considering the influence of the cable on ROV as disturbances) since the forces and the torques arising from the cable are difficult to specify. p. t50 . due to the nonlinear features of the thrusters at low speed operation. which are forces and moments produced by the thrusters. it is necessary to obtain a linear model for the ROV. respectively. The external force is given as the sum of the hydrodynamic force Ff . Fw is the weight force of the vehicle. ˙ (3) where x is a state vector. r0 )T with inputs: Th = (t10 . x1 ˙ x2 ˙ = f1 (x1 . t40 . To apply linear control theory.

the nonlinear model can be approximated by the linear one with satisfactory precision. respectively. frictional torque. qn . u0 ). Although many of the characteristic parameters are provided by the motor manufacturer. T = ρD 4 KT (J0 )n|n|. the velocity u. LYGOURAS r denote the three components of the absolute angular velocity W in the Oxyz system and ϑ. are both positive (first quadrant operation). the thruster .g. N. W10 .82 J.02 m/s and qn < 0. and δu is the difference between the actual and nominal. the ROV nonlinear model can be approximated by a linear one with satisfactory precision.03 rad/s and W10 ∼ Wn and q10 ∼ qn if = = Un < 0. U10 ∼ Un and q10 ∼ qn if = = Un < 0. the dumping constant. u0 ). the rotational velocity of the propeller n and the advance velocity of the vehicle. In this case. the drag forces. namely x0 = f (x0 .. there are parameters (e. Then. the range in which the linear model coincides with the nonlinear one can be investigated. ϕ and φ are the Euler angles.01 m/s. Underwater vehicles are generally equipped with thrusters which consist of a propeller driven by a torque source τ . the gravity and buoyancy forces and moments) that must be obtained experimentally after the motors are built into the vehicle.2 m/s and qn < 0. we can evaluate x0 = f (x0 . nominal input and nominal state should satisfy the ROV nonlinear model. If both n and VA are negative (fourth quadrant). the moment of inertia of the load. wn < 0. (9) (10) where ρ is the mass density of water. VA . this range can be limited as follows: if U10 .5 m/s. ˙ (8) so x0 can be obtained through the above equation. In normal operation. There are practical reasons why the dynamic models of DC motors cannot be applied directly to model the motors of the DC thrusters. The load torque Q from the propeller and the thrust force T are then usually written as: Q = ρD 5 KQ (J0 )n|n|. i. KQ and KT are the torque and the thrust coefficients of the propeller and J0 is the advance ratio: J0 = VA /nD. w and q from the linear model with zero inputs as the nominal one and the ones from the nonlinear model. Considering an input of the form: u = u0 + δu (7) where u0 is the nominal input. Based on the simulation results of linear velocities of the ROV given in [11].012 rad/s if the above conditions are satisfied. q10 and Un . Wn .. D is the propeller diameter.e. wn < 0.

where the nominal force required is minimum. as it is described by Equations (9) and (10). The second aspect is related to the operating condition of the thrusters at hover. to the static nonlinearity of the dc motor.DC THRUSTER CONTROLLER FOR UNDERWATER ROV 83 characteristics are quite similar to those in the first quadrant. The position control of the vehicle in space is achieved through the torque control of its thrusters. it is cancelled in our application by specially designed logarithmic networks. exists between the thrust Ti of propeller i and the physical input.. In general. One major problem that dc motors introduce. The measured sensor signals used for position control feedback are depth. the time response of the thruster is higher. the dead-band nonlinearity of the motor is cancelled [14]. For larger inputs the response is more rapid so that at hover. is that of dead-band nonlinearity. The first one is related to the nonlinear character of its dynamics. The basic requirements in a position control system are the properties of small overshoot and fast settling time to a step input change. This trajectory is determined either manually or automatically by the trajectory planning algorithm of the vehicle. the thrust will be chosen as input in the system: ui = Ti . Commonly. The control system for the ROV thrusters has to consider two aspects. In order to adjust the output torque of each thruster the motor’s speed must be controlled. the thrust and torque coefficients are not equal in these two quadrants (i. symmetrical). although complicated. (11) This means that the system will be linear in the inputs. Position Control System Using DC Thrusters There has been a lot of research work on the analysis of position controllers using brush dc servomotors [15–17] using either conventional or modern control techniques. When such a circuit is connected in series with the dc motor driver circuit. 3. The vehicle is controllable through brush DC thrusters and is capable to move in the 3D space and to turn around the z axis. symmetric to the axis y = x. Therefore. These circuits are designed in a way to present a nonlinear transfer characteristic. Considering as static this nonlinearity. and distance from surrounding objects by means of an ultrasonic scanner system [18]. The influence of the nonlinear term |n|n is reflected in time responses of the thrusters to different amplitude step functions. This system provides the capability to scan the 3-D space around the . In the sequel the implementation of a position controller of the underwater vehicle. however. It is assumed that an algebraic relation. when driven by low input voltages directly or using a PWM driver circuit. The control system is responsible for the overall system performance because it determines the movement on a specific trajectory path. since positive thrust is usually greater than negative thrust. based on the information derived from suitable sensors is described. orientation.e. I (Integral) and D (Derivative) terms are used. several combinations of P (Proportional).

The remaining degrees of freedom (pitch . p3 . The actual position in the 3-D space of the ROV can be derived using combined information of the above sensors. yh ).84 J. p2 . p4 ) which allow us to control the vehicle on the horizontal plane (xh . The scanning ultrasonic tranceiver can be stopped in any desired direction if an obstacle has been detected. the depth zh . N. and the heading φ. (a) The THETIS ROV propeller placement and (b) the Position Error Transformation (PET) technique to drive the system. LYGOURAS (a) (b) Figure 1. vehicle and to represent the scanned profile on the controlling computer screen. In Figure 1(a) the THETIS ROV considered is equipped with four propellers (p1 .

In the same way the heading φr is read from a gyroscope and the respective thrusters P1 and P2 can be actuated to turn the vehicle about the z axis. In manual control.DC THRUSTER CONTROLLER FOR UNDERWATER ROV 85 θ and roll ϕ angles) cannot be directly controlled. suitable sensors and the appropriate interface. Tz (φ) = cos φ − sin φ 0 sin φ cos φ 0 0 0 . Using the Position Error Transformation (PET) technique to drive the system. Ultrasonics. the controlled thruster. those inputs are produced by the tele-operator through a joystick. If a stable target is detected. the controlling DSP. The ROV control inputs. It is composed of the power circuit. 1 eφ = φref − φ. y. Assuming that θ and ϕ are zero. and a gyrocompass-based ROV position control system. denoted as uj (j = x. Figure 2. the vehicle is capable of keeping a constant distance xd from it. z. φ) are the signals that are applied to the command unit of the ROV propellers. depth sensor. (Figure 1(b)) the position error and the ROV velocity measured in inertial coordinates are transformed to body coordinates and the controller gives directly the ROV control inputs uj . However. the system uses passive stability keeping the metacentric height of the vehicle sufficiently large resulting in small pitch and roll angles. (12) (13) A block diagram of the digital position control system is shown in Figure 2. . Using the ultrasonic scanning system the actual distance of the vehicle from the surrounding environment is displayed. The respective thrusters are then actuated in a direction so that to make the position error xd −xr zero. the position error in body coordinates is given by the following transformation: [ex ey ez ]T = Tz (φ)(Pref − P).

According to the PET presented in the previous paragraph. thus it has been omitted. • The time delays of the chopper (bridge) and ultrasonic transceiver (when it measures the distance of a stable target) have also been omitted.86 Table I. and . N.6 Nm Output torque control via PWM 80 mm (diameter) × 150 mm 10 cm. velocity and current feedback with P. • Position. Thrusters specifications Type Input Output Output torque Control method Size Propeller diameter DC motor DC ±25 V. time response of the current loop. The characteristics of the thrusters used in our experiments are listed in Table I. Three different position control schemes have been implemented and tested. PI Controller Implementation with Integral Antiwind-up Compensator The implemented control scheme is shown in Figure 3(a). yh ) consists of two dc thrusters P1 and P2 which can be operated together or separately driven by four quadrant choppers and using the PWM technique. We have made the following assumptions on the position control system: • The whole system is a linear system. Specially designed D/A converters are used to convert the desired control word into the corresponding input voltage for the chopper. 4. The choppers operate at a fixed frequency of 10 KHz with a variable duty cycle controlled by an input voltage (−10 V < Vin < + 10 V). PI and PI controllers. Four-quadrant operation is necessary for accelerating and braking the motors in both directions. ±6 A main power and DC ±12 V for electronic module 120 W at ±3000 rpm 1. LYGOURAS The power circuit that allows us to control the vehicle on the horizontal plane (xh . respectively. more thoroughly the following: • Position and velocity feedback with P and PI controllers. an algorithm was implemented to control the four DC thrusters for positioning the vehicle in each direction. respectively. • The time response of back emf of the motor is considered very slow vs. two-blade J.

plus an integral antiwind-up compensator. though such nonlinearity practically exists in the current reference input node. respectively.DC THRUSTER CONTROLLER FOR UNDERWATER ROV 87 (a) (b) Figure 3. • Position and velocity feedback with P and PI controllers. This saturation-type nonlinearity is not considered in most conventional methods of analysis and design of position controllers. A severe problem in analogue controllers including an I-term is the so-called “integral wind-up” phenomenon. it . The implemented position control schemes: (a) position and velocity feedback and (b) integral antiwind-up compensator. Fortunately. The effect of this is to lengthen the system settling time and to cause large overshoots. caused by persistent offset between the measured and set values.

According to this technique. integral antiwind-up compensation is used and extensively tested.  for eu (t) < −k. The selection of time constants of the PI controllers is based on the conventional analysis. . the controller employs the PI-action when the magnitude of the velocity error is smaller than a prescribed value. The vehicle’s actual speed is obtained by numerical differentiation of the translational displacement along the axis during a fixed time interval.88 J. the integral wind-up is prevented and also the maximum ratings of hardware components are utilized. −Emax and I = 0 where vu = Kx eu 1 + • u(t) is the output of the controller. Otherwise. for eu (t) k. To overcome the integral wind-up problem of the speed controller with PIaction. (14) v(i) = KuF t where KuF is the feedback gain of the speed. In this way. Although this method does not provide so accurate results. The required position and velocity accuracy depend on the specific application. proves that the speed controller of this type provides a fast settling time property with small overshoots regardless of the magnitude of the reference input signal. The number representing the speed for the ith sampling period is given by: [u(i) − u(i − 1)] . The purpose of the speed control loop is to reduce the effects of hydrodynamic and drag forces and also to compensate for the load carried by the thruster. N. The implementation of the PI-controllers for the speed control and current control loops is achieved by using the incremental trapezoidal integration algorithm which computes the integrals of the errors with an increased accuracy: vu = vu−1 + vu (15) T T − eu−1 1 − (16) 2Ti 2Ti The gain of the outer position controller has been estimated using the Zigler– Nichols technique operating the system only with the position control loop. it is the simplest way since it is difficult to derive the linear and angular speed of the vehicle in all directions. The transfer function of this type of controller is given by the following equation:   Ku (eu (t) + (1/Tu )I ). since position measurements can be noisy. the accuracy achieved by the ultrasonic scanning system (1 cm) is enough for our application. which is experimentally verified. The design. Moreover. LYGOURAS is simple to include mechanisms for the exact adjustments of the integral term into digital controllers. (17) u(t) = Emax and I = 0 for eu (t) > k. the controller generates the maximum permissible control signal with the integrator being forced to reset.

The above algorithm describes the bang-bang control action which in a block diagram is shown in Figure 3(b). using the ultrasonic scanning system. hydrodynamic tests were conducted to determine the derivatives which are necessary for the evaluations of manoeuvrability. The above described control schemes in Figure 3 have been experimentally implemented and extensively tested. The desired speed here is compared with the actual speed resulting from differentiation of the distance signal derived from the ultrasonic scanning system.5 m/s. Velocity measurements are taken every 5 ms. 1500 rpm inside the water) and a frictional dead zone at small command inputs (|Vin | < 2. The threshold k used in the PI speed controller is experimentally determined as in the other relevant applications. experimental data are acquired to identify the continuous-time model. This image enables the user to know the distances of the objects surrounding the . If the absolute value of the error is less than or equal to the prescribed value k then the error is given via the PI controller to the motor. 5. Emax is the maximum allowable voltage to the thruster. The order of the model is chosen to ensure acceptable accuracy. The flow round the vehicle of this type is complex. This assumption is not far away from reality since the velocity of this kind of vehicles is rarely higher than 0.DC THRUSTER CONTROLLER FOR UNDERWATER ROV 89 • • • • • • eu (t) is the speed error. The ROV system has been tested in a water-pool. The dominant time constant of the motor is found to be 120 ms. and it is difficult to estimate its hydrodynamic characteristics by simulations. The first one is the minimization of response time of the system while keeping the overshoot low. Since the thruster parameters are unknown. The motor exhibits nonlinear saturation at the maximum velocity (4000 rpm in no load conditions. without increasing the complexity of the controller. in the laboratory of Hydraulics. t I is the integrators output = 0 eu (t) dt. Ku is the forward velocity gain. is illustrated in Figure 4. k is a user defined small positive number. the ROV model can be considered as linear. Experimental Results The modelling. Artificial water-pool bed profile on the controlling computer screen.0 V). When the error is greater than k. Under the assumption that the linear velocity of the vehicle along the axis of motion is low. and the second is avoidance of the so-called Integral Wind-up phenomenon. design and control of an open-frame underwater remotely operated vehicle have been described in this paper. Tu is the integration time constant. So. then the maximum allowable voltage is given to the motor while keeping the integrator reset. Velocity step response of the dc thruster was made to identify the transfer function from pulse width to velocity. From the implementation of the above control algorithm two significant advantages are resulting.

The nonlinearity caused by friction and moment of inertia of the rotor (dead-band nonlinearity) is cancelled using the circuit described in reference [14] with very satisfactory results. LYGOURAS Figure 4. vehicle on a plane including the X-axis and rotated at an angle β relatively to the x-z plane. Obviously. Experimental results showing the response of the P-PI controller to step inputs in the x direction are shown in Figure 5. The scanning transceiver can be rotated round the x axis and in this way it can scan the space around the vehicle over almost a hemisphere. Initial experimental results have been presented in this paper. Even though the presented ROV is essentially an experimental. Nonlinearities in the control system (motor saturation and position quantization) have been neglected in the controller design. test-bed vehicle. Conclusions The position controller using PI plus integral antiwind-up compensation has been implemented and successfully tested for control of the thrusters of the constructed ROV. The satisfying system response is achieved with small overshoot while no disturbances exist. it is still capable of performing . The two-way scanning time for the ultrasonic transducer is about 1. This control law is simple and can be very easily implemented. Artificial water-pool bed profile on the controlling computer screen. N. 6. the last response is a better one since it has the minimum response time and smaller overshoot. Controller gains have been selected to satisfy the design goals of minimum overshoot and settling time.0 s. Step input response is taken moving the vehicle longitudinally along the x axis.90 J. using the ultrasonic scanning system.

Ku = 1. is to perform water pollution measurements. etc.DC THRUSTER CONTROLLER FOR UNDERWATER ROV 91 (a) (b) Figure 5. Here. Here. Tc = 60 and (c) position and speed feedback with P. PI controllers. velocity and current feedback with P.8. Here Kx = 10. efficient and reliable vehicle which can prove a good subsea support system for underwater site surveys (wrecks. Tu = 5 and n = 0. coral. Ku = 1. respectively. respectively. Tc = 70 and Kx = 12. in heavily polluted water up to 100 m deep. pipelines. Tu = 30.5. Ku = 0. at the present stage of development.1. It is a low-cost. . Kx = 15. Tu = 25.).1 and Kx = 21. shells. It can also be used for surface monitored underwater tasks as well as diver support. It is equipped with a B/W video-camera and other suitable sensors and its primary use.55 V.1.0. (b) position. PI and PI controllers. Kc = 1. respectively. Tu = 20. Step input response of the three tested configurations: (a) large signal step response for the case where position and velocity feedback is used with P and PI controller. Ku = 1. various shallow water tasks. Kx = 13. Kc = 1. with integral antiwind-up compensation.

) .92 J. N. (Continued. LYGOURAS (c) (d) (e) Figure 5.

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