Center of Excellence: Assured Autonomy in Contested Environments

Principal Investigator(s): 
Prof. R. Sanfelice (UCSC), Prof. R. Bevilacqua (UF), Prof. K. Butler (UF), Prof. W. Dixon (UF), Prof. N. Fitz-Coy (UF), Prof. M. Hale (UF), Prof. M. Pajic (Duke), Prof. J. Shea (UF), Prof. U. Topcu (UT), Prof. M. Zavlanos (Duke)
Executive Summary: 

The proposed Center of Excellence will pioneer the development of fundamental theories and methods to enable assured autonomous mission execution in complex, uncertain, and adversarial conditions. Our vision is that assured autonomous operations by a network of agents in contested environments require an integrated focus on the complex union of both physical and information dynamics within the analysis, design, and synthesis of logical decision making and control design. Efforts will focus on the availability, integrity, and effective use of information by leveraging our team’s diverse toolsets in dynamics, mathematics, control theory, information theory, communications, and computer science. Networks of autonomous systems will require information exchanges of many data types, including high-level mission specifications and sensor feedback for navigation and control. The goal of assuring autonomy is complicated by the interplay between dynamics of autonomous agents and the stochastic and intermittent dynamics of network traffic. This challenge is further amplified by delays and asynchrony in information flows. Information perturbations can also emanate from adversarial actors in unique and complex ways, requiring security-aware design and analysis methods. For example, we will develop techniques to protect mission-critical information and prevent information disruption/corruption. These challenges must be addressed considering resource limitations and quantitative tradeoffs.