Current Research Projects

From Center for Advanced Machine Mobility
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The research focus of the CAMM is on inventing, understanding, and improving the mobility of mechanical and aeronautical machines that are dynamic and often actively controlled during operation. This often takes the form of improving existing mobile platforms such as unmanned aircraft, unmanned ground robots, smart projectiles, air drop systems, autonomous miniature air vehicles, and rotorcraft. It also involves creating new hybrid machines with air mobility and ground ambulation capability such as the hopping rotochute miniature vehicle. Typically, research is performed at the intersection of dynamic modeling, control system engineering and design, and involves a mix of theory, simulation, and experimentation. Below are descriptions of several representative current research projects.

Finless Articulated Projectiles

Schematic of projectile with moveable nose.

Projectiles can be aerodynamically stabilized through passive and active methods. Traditional passive methods include spin stabilization and fin stabilization, which have many downsides. Active methods take an inherently unstable system and stabilize the system through actuation. Recent work has shown impressive control authority of deformable nose projectiles. The CAMM lab seeks to understand the capability of an actively controlled articulated nose to stabilize and control a finless, slowly-spinning projectile.

Efficient Multibody Flight Dynamic Simulation

Multibody dynamic simulation is paramount to the understanding of complex robotic and aerospace systems that are composed of many inertially relevant bodies. A key to their analysis is fast, versatile, and large-scale simulation. Nonlinear-control-based constraint stabilization is used to allow arbitrary multibody systems to be implemented quickly with no need for the derivation of equations of motion. However, systems with large numbers of bodies can be computationally slow to simulate. The CAMM lab uses knowledge of dynamic systems, graph theory, and numerical methods to greatly improve simulation time and workflow.

Robotic Landing Gear with Attachment Mechanism

Demonstration of helicopter robotic landing gear.

Landing rotorcraft on sloped, uneven, unknown, and/or dynamic surfaces is difficult and perilous. There are fundamental limits on rollover, slip, and bounce that traditional landing gear such as skids cannot overcome. Robotic landing gear (RLG) addresses these issues by using a actively controllable articulated legs as the landing gear. RLG have shown improved capability on slopes, bumpy terrain, and moving ship decks. Further improved capability can be gained by pairing RLG with feet attachment mechanisms, such as mechanical grippers, suction cups, and magnets. The CAMM lab researches the possibility of greatly expanding landing envelope and mission profiles with these attachment mechanisms.