A path following algorithm for mobile robots

T. Bakker, C.J. van Asselt, J. Bontsema, J. Müller, G. van Straten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This paper considers path following control for a robotic platform. The vehicle used for the experiments is a specially designed robotic platform for performing autonomous weed control. The platform is four-wheel steered and four-wheel driven. A diesel engine powers the wheels via a hydraulic transmission. The robot uses a Real Time Kinematic Differential Global Positioning System to determine both position and orientation relative to the path. The deviation of the robot to the desired path is supplied to two high level controllers minimizing the orthogonal distance and orientation to the path. Wheel angle setpoints are determined from inversion of the kinematic model. At low level each wheel angle is controlled by a proportional controller combined with a Smith predictor. Results show the controller performance following different paths shapes including a step, a ramp, and a typical headland path. A refined tuning method calculates controller settings that let the robot drive as much as possible along the same path to its setpoint, but also limit the gains at higher speeds to prevent the closed loop system to become unstable due to the time delay in the system. Mean, minimum and maximum orthogonal distance errors while following a straight path on a paving at a speed of 0.5 m/s are 0.0, -2.4 and 3.0 cm respectively and the standard deviation is 1.2 cm. The control method for four wheel steered vehicles presented in this paper has the unique feature that it enables control of a user definable position relative to the robot frame and can deal with limitations on the wheel angles. The method is very well practical applicable for a manufacturer: all parameters needed are known by the manufacturer or can be determined easily, user settings have an easy interpretation and the only complex part can be supplied as a generic software module
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-97
JournalAutonomous Robots
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • 4WS
  • Path following
  • Robot


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