Voulgaris Heads $1 Million Surveillance Network Research
Pearl Harbor may have been more prepared to counter an invasion in the 1940s if it had had the advantage of surveillance network research AE Prof. Petros Voulgaris is now leading.
The researchers 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.
With an appointment in the Coordinated Science Laboratory (CSL) as well as AE, 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.
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.
While heading the AFOSR grant, Voulgaris is also working with CSL Associate Prof. Dušan Stipanović on a three-year, $950,000 grant from the Qatar National Research Fund to develop methods for safely coordinating networked vehicles.
Safe and reliable multiple vehicle systems can be applied in numerous ways to benefit the oil and gas industry, making this technology important to Qatar’s growth in that industry. This technology can be used in patrolling robots that sense dangerous leaks, such as H2S, coordinated fire extinguishing, coordinated oil spill cleaning and field coordinated surveillance.
The CSL researchers will work on developing algorithms that will guarantee safety in the presence of physical, collision avoidance and information constraints, and they will make the technology robust to communication uncertainty.
This project, titled, “Smart Systems for Field Monitoring and Surveillance,” will be done in collaboration with Professor Mansour Karkoub at Texas A&M University in Qatar.
“We are pretty much in charge of the research side of the grant and the implementation will be done at Texas A&M Qatar,” said Stipanović. CSL researchers will focus on the methodologies and techniques, while Texas A&M Qatar will design and run the experiments.
Voulgaris said this project is a "collaboration in a field that’s new to us and can lead to further collaborations in bigger projects."