Autonomous Systems Research | ECE | Virginia Tech

Research Areas

There are many situations that are either dangerous or tedious for a human, making them perfect for robots. Researchers from the Autonomous Systems and Controls Laboratory (ASCL) make sure that these robots deal with complicated situations well.

Current Research

Autonomous Systems

ECE's autonomous systems researchers are developing robots and algorithms that can perform a variety of tasks without human involvement.

The Autonomous Systems and Controls Laboratory (ASCL) is developing a trawl-resistant self-mooring Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). This vehicle will travel to a specific location and anchor itself to the seafloor for long-term monitoring. The AUV is designed such that it will not become entangled in fishing nets that are dragged along the seafloor where it is moored.

The lab is also working on advanced autopilots that will enable small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to operate in complex interior spaces. The autopilot must compensate for disturbances caused by the airflow from the UAV interacting with the environment (such as walls). It will use non-stationary stochastic descriptions of disturbances to anticipate the necessary control actions. The researchers are contributing fundamental methods for systems that seek an unknown number of objects, when sensors generate false contacts, and when sensor performance varies depending on the environment.

ECE researchers are also developing algorithms for multi-robot autonomous systems, specifically when teams of robots explore new environments. They are using teams of aerial and ground robots to enable data-driven agriculture, using robots as mobile cameras for environmental mapping, and working to understand the tradeoff between speed and risk for robot routing.