Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Director

Krishnanand Kaipa

Committee Member

Sebastian Bawab

Committee Member

Tian-Bing Xu


Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) operating in deep sea and littoral environments have diverse applications including marine biology exploration, ocean environment monitoring, search for plane crash sites, inspection of ship-hulls and pipelines, underwater oil rig maintenance, border patrol, etc. Achieving autonomy in underwater vehicles relies on a tight integration between modules of sensing, navigation, decision-making, path-planning, trajectory tracking, and low-level control. This system integration task benefits from testing the related algorithms and techniques in a simulated environment before implementation in a physical test bed. This thesis reports on the development of a modeling and simulation platform that supports the design and testing of path planning and control algorithms in a synthetic AUV, representing a simulated version of a physical AUV. The approach allows integration between path-planners and closed-loop controllers that enable the synthetic AUV to track dynamically feasible trajectories in three-dimensional spaces. The dynamical behavior of the AUV is modeled using the equations of motion that incorporate the effects of external forces (e.g., buoyancy, gravity, hydrodynamic drag, centripetal force, Coriolis force, etc.), thrust forces, and inertial forces acting on the AUV. The equations of motion are translated into a state space formulation and the S-function feature of the Simulink and MATLAB scripts are used to evolve the state trajectories from initial conditions. A three-dimensional visualization of the resulting AUV motion is achieved by feeding the corresponding position and orientation states into an animation code. Experimental validation is carried out by performing integrated waypoint planner (e.g., using the popular A* algorithm) and PD controller implementations that allow the traversal of the synthetic AUV in two-dimensional (XY, XZ, YZ) and three-dimensional spaces. An underwater pipe-line inspection task carried out by the AUV is demonstrated in a simulated environment. The simulation testbed holds a potential to support planner and controller design for implementation in physical AUVs, thereby allowing exploration of various research topics in the field.