To achieve a robust autopilot for ship course-keeping, a controller based on support vector machines (SVM) and L2-gain is proposed. A cascaded plant consists of a nonlinear ship response model and the rudder actuator dynamics. Uncertainties including modeling errors and external disturbances are taken into account in the response model. SVM is applied to identify the complicated nonlinear dynamics including the modeling errors, while L2-gain design is used to suppress the uncertain disturbances. To obtain the optimized structural parameters in SVM, particle swarm optimization (PSO) method is incorporated. Stability analysis and simulation results demonstrate the validity of the proposed control scheme.

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