Projects

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.

Systematic Tools for Satisfying Temporal Logic Specifications in Hybrid Dynamical Systems: A Control Theoretical Approach

Principal Investigator(s): 
Prof. Ricardo Sanfelice (UCSC)
Executive Summary: 

This proposal aims to develop tools that permit guaranteeing high-level specifications for solutions to hybrid dynamical systems that neither require discretization of the dynamics or of the state space, nor the computation of the solutions themselves. Our research is motivated by the fact that Air Force combat systems require autonomous systems that are agile, reliable, and resilient to meet stringent requirements of its missions. Unfortunately, the unavoidable combination of the physics, the networks, and the algorithms in such systems leads to hybrid system models, which makes the systematic design of algorithms very challenging. The unavoidable presence of obstacles, adversarial elements, and uncertainty in the environment further adds to the complexity and requires design tools that neither discretize the state or the dynamics while guaranteeing given high-level specifications, robustly. While discretization may aid computations in some cases, discretization of the hybrid system models emerging in Air Force missions may not permit assurance that the desired specifications are actually satisfied.

 

NSF CPS: Synergy: Collaborative Research: Computationally Aware Cyber-Physical Systems

Principal Investigator(s): 
Ricardo Sanfelice, Jonathan Sprinkle
Executive Summary: 

The objective of this work is to generate new fundamental science for cyber-physical systems (CPSs) that enables more accurate and faster trajectory synthesis for controllers with nonlinear plants, or nonlinear constraints that encode obstacles. The approach is to utilize hybrid control to switch between models whose accuracy is normalized by their computational burden. This synergistic approach is why we deem our proposed work will enable Computationally Aware Cyber-Physical Systems. The results from this project will advance the knowledge on modeling, analysis, and design of CPSs that utilize predictive methods for trajectory synthesis under constraints. Current algorithm designs seldom include the computational limitations of the hardware/software on which they are implemented as explicit constraints; thus, a challenge is to correctly approximate (or account for) how these constraints can be overcome for real-time systems. The results will include methods for the design of algorithms that adapt to the computational limitations of autonomous and semi-autonomous systems that must satisfy stringent timing and safety requirements. For this purpose, we propose tools capable of accounting for computational capabilities in real-time, and hybrid feedback algorithms that include prediction schemes exploiting computational capabilities to arrive at more accurate predictions, within the time constraints. The problem space will draw from models of Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) in the National Air Space (NAS); algorithms will be modeled in terms of hybrid dynamical systems, to guarantee dynamical properties of interest.

Collaboration with NXP: Path Planning Algorithm Development and Software Implementation

Principal Investigator(s): 
Heiner Litz, Ricardo Sanfelice
Executive Summary: 

The goal of this project is to develop and implement path planning algorithms with safety and optimality guarantees for highway driving scenarios. The algorithms make driving decisions to avoid structural and dynamical obstacles while accomplishing autonomous tasks utilizing heuristics-based search and model-predictive control methodologies. The software implementation will be used in NXP's experimental multi-core accelerator technology to evaluate its performance. The algorithm will be improved by taking advantage of the inter-core communication of that architecture for real-world autonomous driving applications. 

Slugbotics: Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Competition Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV)

Principal Investigator(s): 
Rohan Tuli, Theo Kell, Ryan Meckel, Wren Sakai, Kanoa Nakama, Catherine Lee
Executive Summary: 

 

The Slugbotics research team is completing an ROV to compete in the annual MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) competition at the Explorer level. The objectives and goals of this competition change yearly, requiring a new ROV to be built, providing a chance for constant innovation and improvement. The 2018 competition is held in the Seattle area and is themed around the work that professional ROVs perform in the local area, such as the recovery of airplane wreckage from the bottom of Lake Washington, installing tidal turbine equipment, and gathering seismic earthquake activity using an ocean bottom sensor. 

 

Slugbotics is a student organization at UC Santa Cruz focused on introducing students to underwater robotics. They design, program, fabricate, and test ROVs (Remote Operated Vehicles) that are designed to complete complex tasks in a marine environment. In addition to the MATE competition, Slugbotics also serves as a community education and outreach group. They assist with the organization and running of the Monterey/Watsonville MATE regional, showing younger teams what a college level ROV looks like and giving them possibilities for their future builds.

 

 

Data-Driven Computational Optimal Control for Uncertain Nonlinear Systems

Principal Investigator(s): 
Prof. Daniele Venturi, UCSC, Prof. Qi Gong, UCSC
Executive Summary: 

In this proposal, we address a very important research area in computational mathematics, namely the design and synthesis of optimal control strategies for high-dimensional stochastic dynamical systems. Such systems may be classical nonlinear systems evolving from random initial states, or systems driven by random parameters or processes. The first objective is to provide a validated new computational capability for optimal control of stochastic systems which will be achieved at orders of magnitude more efficiently than current methods based on spectral collocation or random sampling. To accomplish this goal, we will develop a new data-driven optimal control framework based on probability density function (PDF) equations. The new framework is built upon high-order numerical tensor methods, with no specific requirements on the structure of the continuous dynamics, cost function, or the type of uncertainties. The 18 months research plan is multidisciplinary and it involves multiple fields such as optimal control, large-scale optimization, and uncertainty quantification. It consists of theoretical and numerical developments, as well as a general software framework that will implement the proposed algorithms. The proposed research work will have a significant and broad impact in a wide range of engineering applications such as autonomous systems, environmental defense, and ensemble control of random networks.