An alternative type of controllable underwater towed vehicle is proposed. The vehicle is composed of horizontal fixed main wing, adjustable wing flap, and a vertical airfoil main body above which two torpedo-shaped buoyant cylinders are symmetrically fixed. The adjustable wing flap serves as an actuator for deflection of the horizontal fixed main wing to produce enough downward lifting force to the towed vehicle running at a required water depth. Principal function of the torpedo-shaped buoyant cylinders is to create a righting moment or a favorite roll damping for attitude stability of the vehicle during towing operation. Meanwhile two ducted propellers are installed at the sterns of the buoyant cylinders to provide an induced turning moment for the vertical airfoil main body, which in turn produce a driving force for the vehicle in lateral motion.
Results of our laboratory experiments indicate that flexible attitude and trajectory manipulations to the vehicle in multiple degrees of freedom can be achieved with the structural style and control mechanisms of the proposed vehicle. The manipulations to the vehicle with the proposed control mechanisms are accomplished by a joint operation of controlling the rotational speeds and directions of the ducted propellers and/or adjusting the deflection of the wing flap. By means of the proposed structural style and control manner, difficulty in designing control system of the vehicle can be reduced greatly, and stronger self stability of the vehicle during its survey towing can be guaranteed.