Modeling, Control, and Experimental Validation of a High-Speed Supercavitating Vehicle

David Escobar Sanabria, Gary Balas, Roger Arndt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Underwater vehicles that travel inside a bubble or supercavity offer possibilities for high-speed and energy-efficient transportation of cargo and personnel. Validation and testing of mathematical models and control systems for these vehicles is a challenge due to the cost and complexity of experimental facilities and testing procedures. A cost-efficient and low-complexity approach to the experimental validation of mathematical models and control systems for a supercavitating test vehicle is presented in this paper. The proposed method enables the testing of control algorithms subject to steady and unsteady flows in a high-speed water tunnel. The method combines a real-time simulation of the vehicle dynamics, force measurements from an experimental scale vehicle, and flight control computer to reproduce the vehicle motion subject to realistic flow conditions and hardware constraints as actuator saturation and time delay. The model of the vehicle dynamics, used for the validation infrastructure and control design, is derived using experimental data. A controller designed to track pitch angle reference commands was tested on the experimental platform. The test cases validated the operation of the vehicle and controller subject to steady and unsteady flows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6810202
Pages (from-to)362-373
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 1976-2012 IEEE.


  • Controller validation
  • high-speed underwater vehicles
  • hybrid simulation
  • supercavitation


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