Learjet tests with L1 adaptive controller featured in Aviation Week & Space Technology

March 12, 2018

The Learjet tests at Edwards AFB with L1 adaptive controller have been featured in a recent article in Aviation Week & Space Technology. Please click the following link to read more.

Adaptive Flight Control Moves Closer to Reality, The Week in Technology, March 12-16, 2018

Learjet tests at Edwards AFB with L1 adaptive controller

March 4, 2018

L1 adaptive control system is undergoing a third round of flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Please read the following article to learn more about the flight tests:
Illinois professor’s groundbreaking flight control system undergoes third round of testing

Javier and Kasey with AF pilots

Hovakimyan honored for pioneering work in adaptive control

January 25, 2018

Professor Naira Hovakimyan was recently honored with the Award for Technical Excellence in Aerospace Control from IEEE Control Systems Society with the citation “For pioneering innovations in adaptive control and its application to aerospace systems.”

Professor Naira Hovakimyan with other awardees

Click here to read the news on the MechSE website.
Click here to learn more about this award.

Hovakimyan named IEEE Fellow

November 29, 2017

Professor Naira Hovakimyan has been named among the class of 2018 Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) with the citation “For contributions to control with applications to aerospace and robotic systems.”

Click here to see the full list of IEEE 2018 Newly Elevated Fellows.

We welcome new members in our lab

September 6, 2017

Our new team members:

Postdoc: Donghwan Lee.
Ph.D. students: Arman Shahinyan, Neng Wan, and Muhammad Aneeq Uz Zaman.
Undergraduate students: Zhengyu Chen, Chenghao‎ Duan, and Jad Faraj.

DURIP award granted

March 24, 2017

We just got a DURIP award to build a scaled-down airspace physical simulator. This testbed will consist of an indoor flight-test area equipped with a motion capture system and an ultra-wideband (UWB) radio-based positioning system to provide scalable indoor positioning for large-scale UAS fleets, a large number of heterogeneous vehicles to provide high-fidelity physical simulation of real airspace that would also allow development of vehicle-agnostic algorithms, a flexible wireless communication framework to permit experiments with centralized and decentralized algorithms, control stations to manage the simulated airspace and perform mission control, and a rapid prototyping workshop to facilitate the logistics of equipment. The press release can be found here.

New book now available: Time-Critical Cooperative Control of Autonomous Air Vehicles

February 8, 2017

Time-Critical Cooperative Control of Autonomous Air Vehicles presents, in an easy-to-read style, the latest research conducted in the industry, while also introducing a set of novel ideas that illuminate a new approach to problem-solving. The book is virtually self-contained, giving the reader a complete, integrated presentation of the different concepts, mathematical tools, and control solutions needed to tackle and solve a number of problems concerning time-critical cooperative control of UAVs.

By including case studies of fixed-wing and multirotor UAVs, the book effectively broadens the scope of application of the methodologies developed. This theoretical presentation is complemented with the results of flight tests with real UAVs, and is an ideal reference for researchers and practitioners from academia, research labs, commercial companies, government workers, and those in the international aerospace industry.

Find out more about it here.

Hovakimyan named AIAA Fellow

January 30, 2017

Professor Naira Hovakimyan is named among the class of 2017 Fellows of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Click here to read the official AIAA press release.

Read more about this award from the MechSE News and Events page!

By: Fatima Farha

Naira Hovakimyan
  Professor Naira Hovakimyan

MechSE professor Naira Hovakimyan was recently named a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AAIA) “for pioneering development of technical knowledge in robust adaptive control and its transition to aerospace and commercial applications.”

Hovakimyan is the W. Grafton and Lillian B. Wilkins Professor, Schaller Faculty Scholar, University Scholar, Director of the Intelligent Robotics Lab, and an affiliate of the Beckman Institute, the Coordinated Science Lab, Information Trust Institute, and the Aerospace and ECE departments. Her research is primarily focused on robust adaptive control, networks of autonomous systems, and game theory applications regarding safety-critical systems in various engineering fields. She has conducted research and experiments involving domestic drones, robots, and her L1 adaptive control system.

The rank of Fellow is one of AIAA’s most competitive, with only about 20 individuals named each year.

“I feel very honored by this recognition,” said Hovakimyan. “The Fellow rank is the highest rank of AIAA and is very prestigious. I feel humbled to be among those few honorees.”

AAIA is a professional society of individuals who are studying, teaching, and researching the field of aerospace. The society also publishes journals, magazines, e-books, and other documents written by individuals conducting various research on aerospace advancements and technology.


Drones Featured at Aging 2.0 OPTIMIZE in San Francisco

October 18, 2016

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Aging 2.0 OPTIMIZE was created to address the issues with the aging process, in particular, the lack of good technology available for elderly people and caregivers. Among other industry leaders and entrepreneurs Dr. Hovakimyan was chosen to give one of the keynote talks, highlighting our research in human-robot interaction as it applies to prolonging the independence of the elderly. We also had the opportunity to demo some of our research in their Experience Zone over the three day event, flying one of our vehicles designed toward performing tasks like delivering medication and carrying household items.

The video above was part of Dr. Hovakimyan’s keynote talk, showing autonomous trajectory tracking using ultra-wide band localization, aerial manipulation, and other research. The video below is coverage of the event by CNBC Nightly Business Report, concluding with talk of our research and the potential for these vehicles to make a positive impact on aging people.

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Coverage of our research begins at 24:59


F-16 Testing Featured in Aviation Week

September 1, 2016

F-16 VISTA Experimental Aircraft

This fall’s flight test on the variable stability F-16 at Edwards Air Force Base has sparked interest with Aviation Week, commenting on the potential for the L1 control system to be used as a failsafe system for aircraft. Aviation Week Intelligent Network has featured the article on their webpage: “Adaptive Safety System Flies On Variable Stability F-16”.

By: Guy Norris, Sept 2, 2016, Aviation Week & Space Technology

Testing of an adaptive flight controller that could enable pilots to save a damaged or out-of-control aircraft is underway on an F-16 at Edwards AFB, California, as a critical step toward eventual certification of the system for piloted and unmanned aircraft.
The first flight of the L1 adaptive control law on Calspan’s variable stability inflight simulator test aircraft (VISTA) F-16 took place at Edwards on Aug. 26 following a week of ground tests. The two-week campaign is expected to cover 10 2-hr. flights, which will test the ability of the L1 system to safely control the aircraft over a wide range of flight conditions and simulated failures.
Developed by researchers from the Advanced Controls Research Lab at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, the L1 is designed as a backup safety flight control system (FCS) to augment a standard FCS in a conventional aircraft, or as the main control system for an unmanned aircraft. The L1 automatically intervenes if the aircraft has control problems, immediately reconfiguring the FCS to compensate for degraded flying qualities from mechanical failures, miss-trimming or battle damage. Advanced testing of the L1 comes as loss-of-control inflight (LOC-I) air transport accidents have escalated; they are now the cause of the greatest number of fatalities. International Air Transport Association records list 31 LOC-I accidents in 2011-15, 30 of which involved fatalities—an average of six loss-of-control accidents per year. The LOC-1 problem is also widespread in general aviation. And according to the National Transportation Safety Board, it resulted in 1,210 deaths in the U.S. alone in 2008-14.
The L1 is designed to provide safe, predictable, reliable and repeatable responses, freeing pilots to deal with the emergency and compensating for reduced performance. The system works in real time to predict transient behavior by estimating an aggregate of uncertainties, rather than relying on the selection of preprogrammed gains, as do most other adaptive control systems. The L1 controller includes a state predictor and a fast estimation law, which together approximate the dynamics of the aircraft to gauge the uncertainties. These estimates are provided as input to a bandwidth-limited filter that generates a control signal to the FCS.
The evaluation is the second time the L1 controller has flown on a manned aircraft; it follows an initial phase conducted at Edwards in 2015 that used Calspan’s specially modified variable stability Learjet 25. Led by the U.S. Air Force Test Pilots School (TPS), the initial evaluation investigated the ability of the control system to maintain nominal aircraft handling qualities and prevent unfavorable aircraft-pilot interactions in the presence of aircraft failures such as changes in aerodynamics, loss-of-control effectiveness and coupling between control channels.
The new tests, which also involve the TPS, will study the system’s performance in the more dynamically challenging environment provided by the VISTA F-16. Additional failure configurations will be vetted on the more maneuverable fighter aircraft to demonstrate the ability of the control law to compensate for off-nominal dynamics, actuator failures and other types of uncertainties not flown in 2015. Like the Learjet, the VISTA is configured with a variable stability simulator (VSS) computer that simulates off-nominal dynamics and aircraft failures. If a problem is encountered, the VSS locks out the research flight control system and gives control back to the safety pilot.
“Hopefully the tests will prove our work one more time,” says the University of Illinois’s Naira Hovakimyan who, along with Chengyu Cao, developed the controller in 2004 with funding by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. “My objective is to get closer to certification if at all possible, and to show the L1 is capable of handling more uncertainty and unpredictable situations in a predictable and safe way.”
Hovakimyan says a successful flight trial in a sophisticated aircraft like the F-16 “could be a wake-up call to the FAA and possibly lead to more interest in taking a flight control system and adding our control system as a back-up. That is my big vision.” However, Hovakimyan recognizes that introducing the system into an aircraft with an established and certificated FCS faces more than technical challenges: “It’s a very conservative industry and very protective, but if you have a backup flight control system that is doable, then that should be welcomed.”
Initial production applications of the L1 are likely to be on unmanned systems, says Hovakimyan. The L1 was flown for the first time in 2006 in the Rascal unmanned aerial vehicle at the Naval Postgraduate School and again in 2009 when NASA evaluated the controller on the AirSTAR Dynamically Scaled Generic Transport Model research aircraft. Making changes to existing large aircraft programs is hard, but the newly emerging industries should be open to this, Hovakimyan says. “We’d like to see the greenlight to go for certification of the L1 as the basic FCS of UAV,” she adds.