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Opportunity at Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

Unconventional Distributed Sensor Optimization and Integration for Robust Agile Flight Control


Munitions Directorate, RW/Advanced Guidance

RO# Location
13.45.03.B8521 Eglin Air Force Base, FL 325426810


Name E-mail Phone
Thompson, Rhoe Anthony 850.883.0867


Studies of insects, birds, and bats demonstrate their exceptionally robust flight agility and maneuverability, and suggest that this performance is based on their use of numerous sensory modalities that we typically do not exploit in current engineered aerial vehicles. Recent advances in sensor and sensor processing technologies motivate consideration of the possibility of using unconventional sensor arrays for efficient robust agile flight control. Distributed mechanical sensors such as accelerometers, force and torque sensors, bending and shear sensors, and pressure and flow sensors could be integrated with conventional inertial measurement units and other sensing modalities such as vision, to offer the potential for vehicle robust agility that rivals that of insects, birds, and bats. Unconventional optical sensing and processing (vision) technologies such as the use of optical flow, wide field-of-view optics, compressive sensing, and hexagonal sampling could augment these mechanical sensors to provide efficient robust multi-modal sensing for engineered systems. There is a rich literature on optic flow sensing, compressive sensing, aerodynamic flow control, and on conventional flight control systems; there are ongoing studies on artificial hair cells, artificial compound eyes, and control of flexible airframes; and there are recent research projects on use of angular acceleration feedback for gust disturbance rejection. However, an information and control theoretic framework for optimizing distributed multi-modal sensor configurations and for generating robust, high-performance controllers for the coupled high-order and rigid body dynamics of such sensor-rich, agile vehicle concepts does not exist.

We are soliciting candidates with a passion to conduct research in any or all of the following areas: (1) information and control theory for characterization of biological robust agile flight capabilities; ( 2) optimization of distributed multi-modal sensor configurations for robust agile flight control; (3) development of controller design methodologies for agile maneuvering flight using unconventional multi-modal sensor arrays; (4) concepts for information encoding and processing that are descriptive of biological sensory and neural processing systems; (5) implementation of stimulation in biological experiments that closely match the natural world; (6) measurements of acuity of invertebrate optical systems;( 7) measurements of the natural world stimulation available to biological systems (e.g., UV wing signatures);(8) compressive sensing in biological systems; (9) anatomical mapping of sensory and processing circuitry in biological systems; and (10) application of optimal sampling approaches.


Agile flight control; Sensor processing technologies; Unconventional sensor arrays; Mechanical sensors; Optical sensing and processing; Multi-modal sensing;


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants
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