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Mechanical Engineering Colloquium

Dynamic Adjustments to Feedback Gains: New Theoretical Tools for Controlling Autonomous Aerospace Systems

Maruthi Akella
University of Texas

January 31, 2017 at  2:30 PM
Macdonald Engineering Building 267


Trust deficit and lack of adequate verification protocols present formidable obstacles blocking the broader embrace of autonomy within many space missions. In this seminar, we review some recent advances in nonlinear stability theory and robust adaptive control that involve immersion and invariance approaches. These technical foundations are strongly motivated by growing numbers of aerospace engineering applications that are currently addressing the critical need for autonomous (and semiautonomous) control systems with agile maneuvering and robust perception inside dynamic, complex and uncertain environments. Specifically, these new state-estimation and control design tools involve the construction of auxiliary filters (state-space augmentation) for dynamically adjusting the “rate of adaptation” - ultimately leading to some strong convergence properties and robustness features. The seminar will focus upon robot manipulators and spacecraft attitude control system applications operating under the framework of large-scale model uncertainties and non-negligible time-delays due to network-based control implementations. The seminar concludes with a brief discussion of broader astrodynamics applications that include spacecraft motion within arbitrary potential fields.


Dr. Maruthi Akella is a professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin where he holds the Myron L. Begeman Fellowship in Engineering. He is faculty lead for the Controls, Autonomy, and Robotics area and director for the Controls Lab for Distributed and Uncertain Systems (C-DUS Lab) at UT Austin. He received his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University and prior to joining the UT Austin faculty, he was a postdoctoral fellow with the Yale University Center for Systems Science. Dr. Akella’s research program encompasses control theoretic investigations of nonlinear and coordinated systems, vision-based sensing for state estimation, and development of integrated human and autonomous multivehicle systems. Dr. Akella currently serves as Technical Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems (T-AES). He is also an Associate Editor for the Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics (JGCD) and the Journal of the Astronautical Sciences (JAS). For his far-reaching contributions to the field of attitude estimation and control, Dr. Akella was presented the prestigious Mechanics and Control of Flight Award by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He also received the Judith A. Resnik Award from the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society for his fundamental contributions to the adaptive control of space systems. Dr. Akella holds the title of IEEE Distinguished Lecturer. He is a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society (AAS), an Associate Fellow of the AIAA, and an IEEE Senior Member.