Nonlinear Control of Mechanical Systems
Nonlinear control design is appropriate when a control system's behavior is not well-modeled by linear ordinary differential equations. Nonlinear control can improve performance and robustness for systems that are described by nonlinear differential equations. Nonlinear control is useful in aerospace and ocean engineering because ocean, atmospheric, and space vehicles are expected to perform over large operating envelopes where dynamic models are nonlinear and uncertain. In general, nonlinear control design is quite challenging. However, mechanical systems (including vehicles) exhibit special structure that can be exploited in control design and performance analysis. Ongoing research focuses on the development of nonlinear control techniques for mechanical systems of practical importance, including ocean and atmospheric vehicles.
Autonomous Vehicle Dynamics and Control
Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are used by scientists, industry, and the military for a large and growing variety of reasons. There are a great number of challenges to the further development of autonomous systems. For example, autonomous vehicles must be able to operate safely in dynamic, uncertain environments. They must perceive and respond appropriately to threats to their own safety, and more importantly, the safety of people and property. Autonomous vehicles must also work efficiently to minimize the resources needed to support a mission. Ongoing research focuses on perception and planning, reliability, and efficiency of autonomous vehicles, particularly autonomous ocean and atmospheric vehicles.
Unmanned Air Vehicles
Like autonomous marine vehicles, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) are also used by scientists, industry, and the military for “dirty, dull, or dangerous” missions. Recent and ongoing research efforts related to UAVs include the development of UAV flying qualities criteria to aid certifying agencies, and the development of techniques for “designing in” reliability for low-cost UAV systems. Collaborative research efforts include the use of UAV networks to collect airborne pathogens, accounting explicitly for atmospheric dynamics in path planning and coordination.