PhD Studentship in Geometric Control of Autonomous Vehicle
Aston University
Birmingham, United Kingdom
4d ago

Reference : R200013 Release Date : Thursday 16 January 2020

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship funded by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the Sustainable Environment Research Group Research Group at Aston University.

The successful applicant will join an established experimental group working on Energy and Robotics.

The position is available to start in either April or July, subject to negotiation.

Financial Support

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the Home / EU fees rate. Home students will also receive a maintenance allowance of £15,009 in 2019 / 20 (subject to eligibility)

This project is only available to Home / EU students

Background to the Project

Energy Efficient Controls, Integrable Hamiltonian Systems on Lie Group : Homogeneous Space

The project will focus primarily on an Autonomous Underwater Vehicles : The general research theme involves theoretical and experimental study of Underwater Vehicles with emphasis on advanced motion control for unmanned marine vehicles.

This includes control of highly manoeuvrable and underactuated vehicles, collision avoidance methods, and formation control.

Considered motion control scenarios include target tracking as well as path following, tracking, and manoeuvring.

The Lie group and Hamiltonian systems is natural in this setting. This enables one to plan large manoeuvres using an optimal controller.

Current applications and motivations include :

  • Spacecraft attitude problem Controlling the orientation of a satellite is a well-known problem. Firstly, the problem of reconfiguration where the satellite is maneuverer from an initial to final configuration.
  • This problem can be tackled using optimal control while minimizing some practical cost function. In addition at equilibria, we may wish to stabilize the motion of the satellite.

    The Lie group framework can tackle this entire problem globally.

  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) - The motion planning problem of an AUV has received much attention in recent years, as a result of a growing industry in underwater vehicles for deep sea exploration.
  • For an underwater vehicle to succeed it must be able to control its own motion while minimizing the amount of fuel required to perform its task.

    As in the spacecraft attitude problem we wish to design global optimal controls for these systems as well as use geometric techniques to stabilize its motion while minimizing fuel usage.

    Affine control systems defined on finite dimensional Lie groups form an important class of nonholonomic control system that provide a mathematically rich setting for studying mechanical systems.

    These mechanical systems include the motion control of autonomous systems (underwater vehicles, wheeled mobile robots, aircraft, helicopters, and spacecraft).

    This research encompasses theoretical and new developments in the area of motion control of autonomous vehicles, with an emphasis on global motion planning.

    We use equations describing the kinematics of the system and the Maximum principle of optimal control to derive the equations of motion for the autonomous vehicles.

    For systems defined on Lie groups these equations can be expressed in a coordinate free way and therefore analysis of these equations are global.

    The global analysis then comprises of the following :

  • Trajectory-tracking and path-following of autonomous vehicles.
  • Identify globally defined equilibrium solutions. This avoids the use of complicated numerical techniques to identify periodic / bounded equilibria.
  • Stability of equilibria.
  • It is important to highlight that this approach is novel, as the Lie group frame naturally leads to a global analysis. This enables one to plan large maneuvers using an optimal controller.

    Current applications and motivations include :

  • Spacecraft attitude problem Controlling the orientation of a satellite is a well known problem. Firstly, the problem of reconfiguration where the satellite is maneuvered from an initial to final configuration.
  • This problem can be tackled using optimal control while minimizing some practical cost function. In addition at equilibria, we may wish to stabilize the motion of the satellite.

    The Lie group framework can tackle this entire problem globally.

  • Underwater Vehicles- The motion planning problem of an Underwater Vehicle (UV) has received much attention in recent years, as a result of a growing industry in underwater vehicles for deep sea exploration.
  • For an Underwater vehicle to succeed it must be able to control its own motion. As in the spacecraft attitude problem we wish to design global optimal controls for these systems as well as use geometric techniques to stabilize its motion.

  • Unmanned Air Vehicles- The motion planning problem of an Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) is of great importance for military reconnaissance and for commercial applications such as crop spraying.
  • For a UAV to succeed it must be able to control its own motion while minimizing the amount of fuel required to perform its task.

    We wish to design global optimal controls for these systems as well as use geometric techniques to stabilize its motion while minimizing fuel usage.

    The project will focus primarily on an Underwater Vehicles : The general research theme involves theoretical and experimental study of Underwater Vehicles with emphasis on advanced motion control for unmanned marine vehicles.

    This includes control of highly manoeuvrable and underactuated vehicles, collision avoidance methods, and formation control.

    Considered motion control scenarios include target tracking as well as path following, tracking, and manoeuvring.

    The research interest of Professor Holderbaum is relatively new to the school. The school has traditionally been very strong in application driven research and less so in theoretical work.

    It is nevertheless important to support this endeavour through EPSRC proposals. Beside it will expand fundamental research activity within the school in the area of mathematics with engineering application.

    Professor Holderbaum's research is with control systems theory with applications. He received funds from EPSRC, EU, KTP.

    He has also been involved studying motion planning problem for nonholonomic systems defined on Lie groups, which is the topic of the research proposal to be submitted.

    The impact of the proposal will be to provide improved control and hence ability of AUV in applications such as subsea exploration.

    In particular, it will increase the operating range and overall performance. Publications in IEEE and mathematical journals have shown the research to be at a high standard and each of his studentships had led to EPSRC grant proposals under SSE support.

    In addition a strong research thesis was developed as evidenced by journal publications.

    Person Specification

    The successful applicant should have been awarded, or expect to achieve, a Masters degree in a relevant subject with a 60% or higher weighted average, and / or a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution) with pure mathematics and physics as major subjects.

    Preferred skill requirements include knowledge / experience of Hamiltonian Mechanics, Group Theory, Topology, Geometry.

    We would particularly like to encourage applications from women seeking to progress their academic careers. Aston University is committed to the principles of the Athena SWAN Charter, recognised recently by a prestigious Silver Award to EAS, and we pride ourselves on our vibrant, friendly and supportive working environment and family atmosphere.

    Contact information

    For formal enquiries about this project contact Professor William Holderbaum by email at w.holderbaum aston.ac.uk.

    Submitting an application

    Details of how to submit your application, and the necessary supporting documents can be found here.

    The application must be accompanied by a research proposal statement. An original proposal is not required as the initial scope of the project has been defined, candidates should take this opportunity to detail how their knowledge and experience will benefit the project and should also be accompanied by a brief review of relevant research literature.

    If you require further information about the application process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at seasres aston.ac.uk

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