In this chapter, we present an approach of reconfigurable minimum-time guidance of autonomous marine vehicles moving in variable sea currents. Our approach aims at suboptimality in the minimum-time travel between two points within a sea area, compensating for environmental uncertainties. Real-time reactive revisions of ongoing guidance followed by tracking controls are the key features of our reconfigurable approach. By its reconfigurable nature, our approach achieves suboptimality rather than optimality. As the basic tool for achieving minimum-time travel, a globally working numerical procedure deriving the solution of an optimal heading guidance law is presented. The developed solution procedure derives optimal reference headings that achieve minimum-time travel of a marine vehicle in any deterministic sea currents including uncertainties, whether stationary or time varying. Pursuing suboptimality, our approach is robust to environmental uncertainties compared to others seeking rigorous optimality. As well as minimizes the traveling time, our suboptimal approach works as a fail-safe or fault-tolerable strategy for its optimal counterpart, under the condition of environmental uncertainties. The efficacy of our approach is validated by simulated vehicle routings in variable sea currents.
Part of the book: Automation and Control