Journal of Marine Science and Application

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 112–121 | Cite as

A potential flow based flight simulator for an underwater glider

  • Surasak Phoemsapthawee
  • Marc Le Boulluec
  • Jean-Marc Laurens
  • François Deniset
Research Paper


Underwater gliders are recent innovative types of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) used in ocean exploration and observation. They adjust their buoyancy to dive and to return to the ocean surface. During the change of altitude, they use the hydrodynamic forces developed by their wings to move forward. Their flights are controlled by changing the position of their centers of gravity and their buoyancy to adjust their trim and heel angles. For better flight control, the understanding of the hydrodynamic behavior and the flight mechanics of the underwater glider is necessary. A 6-DOF motion simulator is coupled with an unsteady potential flow model for this purpose. In some specific cases, the numerical study demonstrates that an inappropriate stabilizer dimension can cause counter-steering behavior. The simulator can be used to improve the automatic flight control. It can also be used for the hydrodynamic design optimization of the devices.


underwater glider potential flow Newton-Euler equation autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) flight simulator 



Center of buoyancy1


Main wing drag force


Stabilizer drag force


3×3 Identity matrix


Torsor of force and moment


Center of gravity


Gravitational acceleration (9.81 m/s2)

\( I_{m/O_b } \)

Matrix of moment of inertia defined in body reference frame


Main wing lift force


Stabilizer lift force


6×6 Matrix of inertia


6×6 Matrix of estimated added inertia


Glider mass


Normal vector


Origin of the body reference frame


Origin of the Galilean reference frame






Body reference frame


Galilean reference frame


Torsor of glider velocity in body reference frame

\( V_{G/R_b } \)

Velocity of center of gravity with respect to origin of body reference frame

\( V_{O_b /R_b } \)

Glider velocity in body reference frame


Total velocity = (V X 2 + V Y 2 + V Z 2)1/2


Position vector from O b to glider center of gravity in body reference frame

xb, yb, zb

Body reference frame coordinates

Glider volume

\( \Omega _{R_b /R_g } \)

Glider angular velocity


Water density (1 025 kg/m3)


Roll, Euler angle around x-axis


Heel command angle


Pitch, Euler angle around y-axis


Trim command angle


Yaw, Euler angle around z-axis

superscript dot

Time derivative

subscript ext

Reference to external

subscript fic

Reference to fictitious


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Copyright information

© Harbin Engineering University and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Surasak Phoemsapthawee
    • 1
  • Marc Le Boulluec
    • 2
  • Jean-Marc Laurens
    • 3
  • François Deniset
    • 4
  1. 1.International Maritime CollegeKasetsart University-Si Racha CampusSi RachaThailand
  2. 2.Ifremer, RDT/HOPlouzanéFrance
  3. 3.Ensta-BretagneBrest cedex9France
  4. 4.IRENav, Ecole Navale, LanveocBrest cedex9France

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