Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Committee Chair

Inanc, Tamer

Author's Keywords

Trajectory generation; Underwater glider; Aerobots


Trajectory optimization


Optimal trajectory generation is an essential part for robotic explorers to execute the total exploration of deep oceans or outer space planets while curiosity of human and technology advancements of society both require robots to search for unknown territories efficiently and safely. As one of state-of-the-art optimal trajectory generation methodologies, Nonlinear Trajectory Generation (NTG) combines with B-spline, nonlinear programming, differential flatness technique to generate optimal trajectories for modelled mechanical systems. While Discrete Mechanics and Optimal Control (DMOC) is a newly proposed optimal control method for mechanical systems, it is based on direct discretization of Lagrange-d'Alembert principle. In this dissertation, NTG is utilized to generate trajectories for an underwater glider with a 3D B-spline ocean current model. The optimal trajectories are corresponding well with the Lagrangian Coherent Structures (LCS). Then NTG is utilized to generate 3D opportunistic trajectories for a JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) Aerobot by taking advantage of wind velocity. Since both DMOC and NTG are methods which can generate optimal trajectories for mechanical systems, their differences in theory and application are investigated. In a simple ocean current example and a more complex ocean current model, DMOC with discrete Euler-Lagrange constraints generates local optimal solutions with different initial guesses while NTG is also generating similar solutions with more computation time and comparable energy consumption. DMOC is much easier to implement than NTG because in order to generate good solutions in NTG, its variables need to be correctly defined as B-spline variables with rightly-chosen orders. Finally, the MARIT (Multiple Air Robotics Indoor Testbed) is established with a Vicon 8i motion capture system. Six Mcam 2 cameras connected with a datastation are able to track real-time coordinates of a draganflyer helicopter. This motion capture system establishes a good foundation for future NTG and DMOC algorithms verifications.