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Spring 2024 GRASP on Robotics: Kristi Morgansen, University of Washington, “Integrated Sensing and Actuation for Robust Flight Systems”

April 19 at 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM

This is a hybrid event with in-person attendance in Wu and Chen and virtual attendance on Zoom.


A fundamental element of effective operation of autonomous systems is the need for appropriate sensing and processing of measurements to enable desired system actions. Model-based methods provide a clear framework for careful proof of system capabilities but suffer from mathematical complexity and lack of scaling as probabilistic structure is incorporated. Conversely, learning methods provide viable results in probabilistic and stochastic structures, but they are not generally amenable to rigorous proof of performance. A key point about learning systems is that the results are based on use of a set of training data, and those results effectively lie in the convex hull of the training data. This presentation will focus on use of model-based nonlinear empirical observability criteria to assess and improving and bounding performance of learning pose (position and orientation) of rigid bodies from computer vision. A particular question to be addressed is what sensing data should be captured to best improve the existing training data. The particular tools to be leveraged here focus on the use of empirical observability gramian techniques being developed for nonlinear systems where sensing and actuation are coupled in such a way that the separation principle of linear methods does not hold. These ideas will be discussed relative to both engineering applications in the form of motion planning for range and bearing only navigation in autonomous vehicles, vortex position and strength estimation from pressure measurements on airfoils, and effective strain sensor placement on insect wings for inertial measurements.

Kristi Morgansen

University of Washington

Dr. Kristi A. Morgansen is the Boeing-Egtvedt Endowed Chair for Excellence in Engineering in the University of Washington College of Engineering, and Professor and Department Chair of the UW William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics. She received a BS (1993) and a MS (1994) in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, and an S.M. (1996) in Applied Mathematics and a PhD (1999) in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University. Her research interests focus on nonlinear systems where sensing and actuation are integrated, stability in switched systems with delay, and incorporation of operational constraints such as communication delays in control of multi-vehicle systems. Applications include both traditional autonomous vehicle systems such as fixed-wing aircraft, launch vehicles, and underwater gliders as well as novel systems such as bio- inspired underwater propulsion, bio-inspired agile flight, human decision making, and neural engineering. Her work includes over 100 peer-reviewed publications as well as field testing in commercial systems such as the Boeing ecoDemonstrator. She is co-Founder and co-Director of the UW Space Policy and Research Center (UW SPARC) and Director of the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium. She received an NSF CAREER award (2003) and the AACC O. Hugo Schuck award for best paper in the theory category (2009). Morgansen is a Fellow of AIAA, Chair of the AIAA Aerospace Department Chairs Association, a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, and a member of the Department of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.


April 19
10:30 AM - 11:45 AM


General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab
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Wu and Chen Auditorium (Room 101), Levine Hall
3330 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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