Stability and drift of underwater vehicle dynamics: Mechanical systems with rigid motion symmetry

Naomi Ehrich Leonard, Jerrold E. Marsden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


This paper develops the stability theory of relative equilibria for mechanical systems with symmetry. It is especially concerned with systems that have a noncompact symmetry group, such as the group of Euclidean motions, and with relative equilibria for such symmetry groups. For these systems with rigid motion symmetry, one gets stability but possibly with drift in certain rotational as well as translational directions. Motivated by questions on stability of underwater vehicle dynamics, it is of particular interest that, in some cases, we can allow the relative equilibria to have nongeneric values of their momentum. The results are proved by combining theorems of Patrick with the technique of reduction by stages. This theory is then applied to underwater vehicle dynamics. The stability of specific relative equilibria for the underwater vehicle is studied. For example, we find conditions for Liapunov stability of the steadily rising and possibly spinning, bottom-heavy vehicle, which corresponds to a relative equilibrium with nongeneric momentum. The results of this paper should prove useful for the control of underwater vehicles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-162
Number of pages33
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Mechanical systems with symmetry
  • Relative equilibrium
  • Rigid body in a fluid
  • Stability
  • Underwater vehicle


Dive into the research topics of 'Stability and drift of underwater vehicle dynamics: Mechanical systems with rigid motion symmetry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this