AFOSR Surveillance Network Research

August 15, 2012 - 12:29pm survey1_0

If the surveillance network research underway at Illinois had existed in the 1940s, Pearl Harbor may have been better prepared to counter an invasion.

CSL Professor Petros Voulgaris (Aerospace Engineering) heads a multi-university group in an approximately $1 million grant over three years from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) to determine how sophisticated, unmanned surveillance vehicles can provide navy antiterrorism and force protection measures in harbors.

The researchers envision a heterogeneous group of ground, underwater, surface, and aerial unmanned vehicles monitoring the Navy fleet and ports.They believe that aerial autonomous surveillance of vessel traffic, current and wave patterns, and ocean weather conditions can enhance the military’s ability to coordinate autonomous surveillance agents positioned underwater and on the surface.

The proposal presents a complex problem of using a large network of decentralized autonomous agents with various sensing capabilities to work together to provide a massive amount of data. The scientists must also take into consideration uncertainties, including potential sensor and communication link errors.

“We consider multi-autonomous systems tasks with minimal information so that the complexity is reduced and we can deal with the massive amounts of data. The present amount of data is too much to accomplish the coordination task,” Voulgaris said.

Voulgaris’ research interests include robust and optimal control and estimation, structured and distributed control, networks and control, and applications of advanced control and estimation methods to engineering practice.

Voulgaris will be working on the project with fellow CSL researchers Soon-Jo Chung (Aerospace Engineering),Seth Hutchinson (ECE) and Steven LaValle (Computer Science). Chung’s expertise is in aerospace systems, autonomous systems, and robotics, including control of robots and high performance aerospace vehicles and formation of flying UAVs/MAVs and spacecraft.  Hutchinson’s interests are in robotics, vision and artificial intelligence, while LaValle is interested in the design of planning algorithms, mainly on problems involving continuous spaces, complicated geometric constraints, differential constraints, and/or sensing uncertainties.

Magnus Egerstedt, professor of Systems and Controls in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will work with the Illinois group. His interests include hybrid and networked control, with applications in motion planning, control, and coordination of mobile robots.


by Susan Mumm, Aerospace Engineering