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Forum on Robotics & Control Engineering

A Laboratory for Autonomy, Control, Information, and Systems Initiative

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Forum on Robotics & Control Engineering

The mission of the Forum on Robotics & Control Engineering (FoRCE) at the University of South Florida is simple: Provide free, high-quality outreach events and online seminars in order to reach broader robotics and control engineering communities around the globe. To support our mission, we periodically invite distinguished lecturers to the FoRCE to give talks on recent research and/or education results related to robotics and control engineering. As a consequence, the FoRCE aims in connecting academicians and government/industry researchers/practitioners with each other through crosscutting basic and applied research and education discussions.

Each upcoming FoRCE event (see below) is currently
announced through the Guidance, Navigation, and Control Listserv (GNC-L). In order to subscribe to this listserv, simply send an email to listserv@listserv.usf.edu with no text on the subject line but write "subscribe gnc" (without quotation marks) on the body of your email (click here for a sample email); visit GNC-L website for additional details. We also announce the upcoming FoRCE events through the IEEE Control Systems Society E-Letter ahead of time (click here) and the ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Division Listserv (click here).

We cordially hope that you will enjoy the FoRCE events and find them highly-valuable to your own research and education interests!

Upcoming Events


Date (Event Classification): January 24, 2018 - 12:00 PM Eastern Time (Online Seminar)

Abstract: During the past decades model predictive control (MPC) has become a preferred control strategy for the control of a large number of industrial processes. Computational issues, application aspects and systems theoretic properties of MPC (like stability and robustness) are rather well understood by now. For many application disciplines a significant shift in the typical control tasks to be solved can, however, be witnessed at present. This concerns for example robot control, autonomous mobility, or industrial production processes. This will be examplarily discussed with the vision of the smart factory of the future, often termed Industry 4.0, where the involved control tasks, are undergoing a fundamental new orientation. In particular the stabilization of predetermined setpoints does not play the same role as it has in the past. In this talk we will first give an introduction to and an overview over the field of model predictive control. Then new challenges and opportunities for the field of control are discussed with Industry 4.0 as an example. We will in particular investigate the potential impact of Model Predictive Control for the fourth industrial revolution and will argue that some new developments in MPC, especially connected to distributed and economic model predictive control, appear to be ideally suited for addressing some of the new challenges.

Biography: Frank Allgöwer is director of the Institute for Systems Theory and Automatic Control and professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. Frank's main interests in research and teaching are in the area of systems and control with a current emphasis on the development of new methods for optimization-based control, networks of systems and systems biology. Frank received several recognitions for his work including the IFAC Outstanding Service Award, the IEEE CSS Distinguished Member Award, the State Teaching Award of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, and the Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Frank served as IEEE CSS Vice-President for Technical Activities over in 2012-2015 and is President of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) for the years 2017-2020. He was Editor for the journal Automatica from 2001 to 2015 and is editor for the Springer Lecture Notes in Control and Information Science book series. He has published over 500 scientific articles. Since 2012 Frank serves a Vice-President of the German Research Foundation (DFG).


Date (Event Classification): March 23, 2018 - 12:00 PM Eastern Time (Online Seminar)

In this talk we address the problem of designing nonlinear observers that possess robustness to output measurement errors. To this end, we introduce a novel concept of quasi-Disturbance-to-Error Stable (qDES) observer. In essence, an observer is qDES if its error dynamics are input-to-state stable (ISS) with respect to the disturbance as long as the plant's input and state remain bounded. We develop Lyapunov-based sufficient conditions for checking the qDES property for both full-order and reduced-order observers. This relates to a novel "asymptotic ratio" characterization of ISS which is of interest in its own right. When combined with a state feedback law robust to state estimation errors in the ISS sense, a qDES observer can be used to achieve output feedback control design with robustness to measurement disturbances. As an application of this idea, we treat a problem of stabilization by quantized output feedback. Applications to synchronization of electric power generators and of chaotic systems in the presence of measurement errors will also be discussed.

Biography: Daniel Liberzon was born in the former Soviet Union in 1973. He did his undergraduate studies in the Department of Mechanics and Mathematics at Moscow State University from 1989 to 1993. In 1993 he moved to the United States to pursue graduate studies in mathematics at Brandeis University, where he received the Ph.D. degree in 1998 (supervised by Prof. Roger W. Brockett of Harvard University). Following a postdoctoral position in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Yale University from 1998 to 2000 (with Prof. A. Stephen Morse), he joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is now a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the Coordinated Science Laboratory. His research interests include nonlinear control theory, switched and hybrid dynamical systems, control with limited information, and uncertain and stochastic systems. He is the author of the books "Switching in Systems and Control" (Birkhauser, 2003) and "Calculus of Variations and Optimal Control Theory: A Concise Introduction" (Princeton Univ. Press, 2012). His work has received several recognitions, including the 2002 IFAC Young Author Prize and the 2007 Donald P. Eckman Award. He delivered a plenary lecture at the 2008 American Control Conference. He is a fellow of IEEE and IFAC, and an Editor for Automatica (nonlinear systems and control area).


Date (Event Classification): April 6, 2018 - 12:00 PM Eastern Time (Online Seminar)

With the increasing trend towards system downsizing and the growing stringency of requirements, constraint handling and limit protection are becoming increasingly important for engineered systems. Constraints can reflect actuator limits, safety requirements (e.g., process temperatures and pressures must not exceed safe values) or obstacle avoidance requirements. Reference governors are control schemes that can be augmented to already existing control systems in order to provide constraint handling/limit protection capabilities. These add-on schemes exploit prediction and optimization or invariance/strong returnability properties to supervise and minimally modify operator (e.g., pilot or driver) commands, or other closed-loop signals, whenever there is a danger of future constraint violations. The presentation will introduce the basic reference governor schemes along with the existing theory. Several recent extensions and new variants of these schemes will be highlighted. Selected aerospace and automotive applications will be described. Opportunities for future research will be mentioned.

Biography: Professor Ilya V. Kolmanovsky has received his Ph.D. degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1995, his M.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1993 and his M.A. degree in Mathematics in 1995, all from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is presently a full professor with tenure in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan. Professor Kolmanovsky’s research interests are in control theory for systems with state and control constraints and in control applications to aerospace and automotive systems. Prior to joining the University of Michigan in January 2010, Dr. Kolmanovsky was with Ford Research and Advanced Engineering in Dearborn, Michigan for close to 15 years. He is a Fellow of IEEE, a past recipient of the Donald P. Eckman Award of American Automatic Control Council, of 2002 and 2016 IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology Outstanding Paper Awards and of several awards of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. He is also named as an inventor on 98 United States patents.


Date (Event Classification): April 25, 2018 - 12:00 PM Eastern Time (Online Seminar)

Abstract will be posted soon.

Biography: Jeff Shamma is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the Julian T. Hightower Chair in Systems & Control (currently on leave) in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). He received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1983 and a PhD in Systems Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988. He held faculty positions at the University of Minnesota, University of Texas-Austin, and University of California-Los Angeles. Dr. Shamma is a recipient of the NSF Young Investigator Award (1992), the American Automatic Control Council Donald P. Eckman Award (1996), and the Mohammed Dahleh Award (2013), and he is a Fellow of the IEEE (2006). He is currently an Associate Editor for Games (2012-present) and a Senior Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems (2013-present). His research is in the general area of feedback control and systems theory. His most recent research has been in decision and control for distributed multiagent systems and the related topics of game theory and network science, with applications to cyberphysical and societal network systems.


Date (Event Classification): May 9, 2018 - 12:00 PM Eastern Time (Online Seminar)

High-gain observers play an important role in the design of feedback control for nonlinear systems. This lecture overviews the essentials of this technique. A motivating example is used to illustrate the main features of high-gain observers, with emphasis on the peaking phenomenon and the role of control saturation in dealing with it. The use of the observer in feedback control is discussed and a nonlinear separation principle is presented. The use of an extended high-gain observer as a disturbance estimator is covered. Challenges in implementing high-gain observers are discussed, with the effect of measurement noise as the most serious one. Techniques to cope with measurement noise are presented. The lecture ends by listing examples of experimental testing of high-gain observers.

Biography: Hassan K. Khalil received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Cairo University, Egypt, in 1973 and 1975, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1978, all in electrical engineering. Since 1978, he has been with Michigan State University (MSU), where he is currently University Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has consulted for General Motors and Delco Products, and published over 100 papers on singular perturbation methods and nonlinear control. He is the author of High-Gain Observers in Nonlinear Feedback Control (SIAM 2017), Nonlinear Control (Pearson 2015), Nonlinear Systems (Macmillan 1992; Prentice Hall 1996 & 2002) and coauthor of Singular Perturbation Methods in Control: Analysis and Design (Academic Press 1986; SIAM 1999). Dr. Khalil was named IEEE Fellow in 1989 and IFAC Fellow in 2007. He received the 1989 IEEE-CSS George S. Axelby Outstanding Paper Award, the 2000 AACC Ragazzini Education Award, the 2002 IFAC Control Engineering Textbook Prize, the 2004 AACC O. Hugo Schuck Best Paper Award, the 2009 AGEP Faculty Mentor of the Year Award, and the 2015 IEEE-CSS Bode Lecture Prize. At MSU he received the 1983 Teacher Scholar Award, the 1994 Withrow Distinguished Scholar Award, and the 1995 Distinguished Faculty Award. He was named University Distinguished Professor in 2003. He served as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, Automatica, and Neural Networks, and as Editor of Automatica for nonlinear systems and control. He was Registration Chair of the 1984 CDC, Finance Chair of the 1987 ACC, Program Chair of the 1988 ACC, and General Chair of the 1994 ACC.

Recorded Past Events


Link (Event Classification / Date): https://youtu.be/jSmB2_TgjO8 (Regular Seminar / January 5, 2018)

Geometric mechanics is useful in developing a compact description of the motion of a rigid body in three-dimensional space which is singularity-free, unique, does not limit the motion to small angles, and enables a single control law to be obtained even in the presence of translational/rotational coupling. Such a description, which is based on the Lie group SE(3) and its corresponding "exponential coordinates", is especially useful for spacecraft and other types of autonomous vehicles undergoing fast rotations and tumbling motions. This talk will explore various coordinates for rigid body attitude along with their pros and cons (including the phenomenon of unwinding when using a quaternion attitude description) as well as the use of the SE(3) framework in multi-vehicle consensus control design in which it is desired to achieve leader-follower formations along with attitude synchronization. The case of four formation flying spacecraft in a Molniya orbit will serve as an illustrative example.

Eric Butcher is a Professor in the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Arizona. He was formerly a faculty member at New Mexico State University and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He has a M.S. and Ph.D. (in mechanical engineering) from Auburn University and a M.S. (in aerospace engineering sciences) from the University of Colorado. His research interests lie in nonlinear dynamics and control; time-periodic, time-delayed, stochastic, and fractional order systems; chaos and chaos control; decentralized multi-agent consensus control and estimation; nonlinear vibrations; orbital mechanics and spacecraft GNC; spacecraft attitude, relative motion, coupled orbit/attitude dynamics, and geometric mechanics. He is a former associate editor for the Journal of Computational and Nonlinear Dynamics and the International Journal of Dynamics and Control.


Link (Event Classification / Date): https://youtu.be/DDhHXecMirI (Tutorial Lecture / October 24, 2017)

What is model reference adaptive control? Why does one prefer using a model reference adaptive controller? How can we design and analyze a model reference adaptive controller? In this FoRCE video, we answer these fundamental questions related to model reference adaptive control theory and beyond.

Dr. Tansel Yucelen is with the Laboratory for Autonomy, Control, Information, and Systems at the University of South Florida.