I'm working on an autonomous sailboat. I'm in the process of selecting hardware now. I'm curious if there is a way in ArduPilot to tell the vehicle to follow a particular heading rather than go to a waypoint.
When sailing downwind, following waypoints makes sense. You let the autopilot control the rudder and trim your sails to whatever relative wind you sense. However, when going upwind, the strategy is different. Sailboats cannot go directly upwind. They talk left and right in a zigzag. You want to use the rudder to point a specific angle off the wind (e.g., 45 degrees). If you turn closer to the wind, you stop and then drift backwards without control. If you fall off the wind, you're lengthening your already zigzagging path.
So, is there a way to tell the vehicle that I want a particular heading, and I don't care if my track drifts left or right? I suppose I could fake this with a waypoint on this heading but many miles away... Is there a simper way?