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Formation Control

Task Manager

Dr. Fred Y. Hadaegh

Dr. Fred Y. HadaeghDr. Hadaegh received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He joined the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology in 1984, where he is a Senior Research Scientist, the supervisor of the Guidance and Control Analysis Group, and manager of the Distributed Spacecraft Technology Program. He is a Fellow of IEEE and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He is a recipient of, NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal, NASA's Exceptional Service Medal and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Award of Excellence for his contributions to Flight Validation of Autonomous Rendezvous in Earth Orbit. His research contributions are in mathematical modeling of uncertain systems, system identification, control of large space structures, and optimal estimation and autonomous control of formation flying of space systems.

Team Members

Dr. Scott R. Ploen (Formation Dynamics and Modeling)

Dr. Scott R. Ploen Dr. Scott R. Ploen is a Staff Engineer in the Guidance and Control Analysis Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He received his B.S. in Bioengineering (with honors) from the Department of Applied Mechanics and Engineering Sciences (AMES) at the University of California, San Diego in 1991. He received both his M.S. (in 1994) and Ph.D. (in 1997) from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Ploen's research interests include geometric methods in mechanics, multi-body dynamics, robotics, and nonlinear geometric control theory. He is currently a visiting lecturer at UC Irvine and is a member of IEEE, ASME, AIAA, ASEE, and SIAM.

Dr. Behcet Acikmese (Formation Control and Estimation)

Dr. A. Behcet AcikmeseDr. Behcet Acikmese is a senior member of the Guidance and Control Analysis Group at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He received his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and his PhD in Aerospace Engineering, both degrees from Purdue University. He was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Purdue University before joining JPL. His research interests include robust and nonlinear control theory, optimal control, model predictive control (MPC), convex optimization and linear matrix inequalities (LMIs) in guidance, control and estimation, and real-time optimization.

He is currently developing guidance, control, and estimation algorithms for formation flying spacecraft and distributed networked systems, proximity operations around asteroids and comets, and Mars and the Moon landing, as well as developing and implementing interior point methods and multiparametric programming algorithms for the onboard real-time numerical solution of convex programming problems. Dr. Acikmese’s current research developed a fundamental result, known as “lossless convexification,” that provides the solution of a general class of nonconvex optimal control problems via convex optimization methods instead of intractable nonconvex optimization techniques. This discovery has enabled a number of key technological innovations at JPL in the area of powered descent guidance for planetary landing.

Dr. Daniel P. Scharf (Formation Guidance and Control)

Dr. Daniel P. Sharf Daniel Scharf is a Senior Engineer in the Guidance and Control Analysis Group at JPL. His work focuses on multi-spacecraft guidance, estimation, and control, adaptive and distributed control, and astrodynamics with 40+ publications in these areas. He is currently the Lead Engineer for TPF-I Formation Flying, including the 6DOF, multi-robot Formation Control Testbed. He was the Deputy Cluster Flight Manager for a DARPA F6 team and has also been the PI for a multi-year internal R&D effort focused on formation estimation, communication, and sensing, and responsible for designing and implementing (i) multi-stage controllers for optical delay lines in formation interferometers and (ii) robust adaptive controllers for the AFRL-sponsored MACE II flight experiment aboard the International Space Station. He holds a B.S.E.M. from the Univ. of Minnesota in Aerospace Engineering and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the Univ. of Michigan. He is a member of IEEE and a Senior Member of AIAA.

Prof. R.S. Smith (Formation Control and Estimation)

University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)

Dr. Roy S. Smith Professor Smith joined the faculty at UCSB in 1990, coming from a background in both industrial and government laboratory research. Known as an experimentalist and design engineer as well as a theorist, Dr. Smith's research is broadly based upon feedback control systems. His current interests focus on the identification and control of uncertain systems, particularly the relationship between experimental data and theoretical models; design methodologies for uncertain constrained nonlinear systems; and distributed estimation, communication and control systems. On the applications side, he has applied these ideas to a variety of experimental testbeds including, process control, automotive and marine engine systems, flexible space structures, aeromaneuvering Mars entry vehicles, formation flying of spacecraft, magnetically levitated bearings, and semiconductor fabrication facilities. He has been a long time consultant to the Jet Propulsion laboratory on guidance, navigation and control aspects of interplanetary and deep space science spacecraft. He is a senior member of IEEE and AIAA, and a member of SIAM and NZAC.

Prof. P.K.C. Wang (Formation Control and Guidance)

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

Dr. Paul K. C. Wang Paul K.C. Wang received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1955 and 1956, respectively. He earned the Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1960. He has been a member of the UCLA Electrical Engineering Department faculty since 1967. Prof. Wang is an IEEE Senior Life Member. He is also a member of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Mathematical Society, and the American Physical Society.

Linh Phan

Linh Phan Linh Phan received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from University of California, Berkeley in 1993 and his M.S. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southern California in 1998. He is currently a member of the Guidance and Control Analysis Group.





Dr. Lars Blackmore

Lars BlackmoreLars Blackmore is currently a member of the Guidance and Control Analysis group at JPL. His work focuses on guidance and control for planetary pinpoint and precision landing, guidance and control for comet and asteroid sample return, guidance and control under stochastic uncertainty, and estimation for formation-flying spacecraft. Dr. Blackmore's research has provided algorithms for "chance-constrained" guidance and control, which guarantee a prescribed probability of mission success despite uncertainty in the form of estimation error, modeling error, and disturbances. In addition, Dr. Blackmore's current research has provided a class of "lossless convexification" results, which enable nonconvex powered descent guidance problems to be solved using tractable convex optimization techniques. Dr. Blackmore's ongoing work in multiparametric programming enables spacecraft guidance and control problems to be solved almost-optimally onboard without performing iterative optimization.

Dr. Blackmore received his PhD in Control and Estimation in 2007 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has an MEng in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cambridge (UK). Lars' previous research experience includes projects with the McLaren Formula One Racing Team, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the JPL Advanced Robotic Controls Group and Airbus.


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