Research in this area includes robust control, on-line and distributed optimization, fault detection and identification in control systems, learning methods, modeling immune systems, control with neural networks, fuzzy systems, and fault-tolerant robotic manipulators.
Control systems must often function correctly in the presence of uncertainties, disruptions, and noise. Research on robust control is focused on utilizing knowledge of likely perturbations to analyze and design robust control strategies. The design of failure-tolerant robotic manipulators is an example of robust control integrated with kinematic redundancy. The manipulator's extra degrees of freedom are used to achieve full maneuverability and predictable remote operation in the presence of joint failures. Applications of research on robotic device control includes automatic excavation, multiple manipulators operating on a single object, and remote operation in hazardous environments.
Discrete event systems provide a means for characterizing complex systems that include physical events occurring at discrete events in time. Examples of these real-world systems include computer systems, networks, vehicular traffic, and the stock market. Optimization algorithms that can function in real-time and in a distributed environment are being designed for non-parametric stochastic discrete event systems. Fuzzy inference and neural networks are used to model and control vehicle steering and braking, robotic manipulators, uncertain dynamic systems, and time-delay estimation. A unique approach to enhancing the human immune system from a control systems perspective is also under development. Mathematical models of the immune system provide insight into the optimization of serum drug dosages and patient recovery time.
Automatic control research is also conducted through the Center for Collaborative Manufacturing (CCM, see pages 78-79), a cross-disciplinary engineering research center sponsored by NSF. The scope of the Center's research includes all technical activities in the manufacture of mechanical and electrical discrete products from early design to completion. Current focuses include precision mechanical products, custom-engineered components, and processing of advanced materials.