Toward Time-Optimal Trajectory Planning for Autonomous Ship Maneuvering in Close-Range Encounters
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Ship intelligence has been a hot topic in recent years. How to achieve autonomous maneuvers in a complex marine environment in a safe, efficient, and low-cost manner is a fundamental task that ocean engineers face. This paper presents a two-stage trajectory planning scheme to address the minimum-time maneuvering problem in close-range encounters. The scheme is robust and versatile, as it can deal with the complex spatial variability, such as sea current, state constraints, marine traffic, and physical constraints, of close-range maneuvering. In the first stage, a directed graph with variable length is generated according to the sea current distribution. A wavefront search is applied on the graph to explore the reachability, the cost of state constraints, and the risk of collision. After a discrete solution has been found, the second stage involves searching for a smooth solution. A Bézier curve based parameter optimization approach is proposed to get rid of limited moving directions in the directed graph and explore around the discrete path. The result will be a near-optimal, smooth path. The proposed scheme has been tested to solve the Zermelo’s ship steering problem and several other close-range maneuvering problems. The results demonstrate that the scheme is efficient in generating smoothed minimum-time trajectories for surface vessels when maneuvering in close-range encounters.