Vehicles with internal actuators, such as spacecraft with control moment gyroscopes or underwater gliders with moving mass actuators, belong to an interesting class of underactuated mechanical systems. Geometric mechanics and geometric control theory provide effective tools for analysis and control design.
There is growing interest in the design, modeling and flight control of flapping wing micro-air vehicles (MAVs). While numerous applications motivate this interest (in areas such as security, for example), the engineering challenges are even more compelling. Flapping wing MAVs exploit physical phenomena that can typically be neglected in modeling other flight vehicles. These include unsteady aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, and multibody mechanics. Geometric control theory can provide insight concerning the design and operation of flapping wing MAVs.
We are developing advanced motion control strategies to enhance the performance and efficiency of underwater gliders. We are also developing new mechanisms, such as the Mass Center Alignment System (MCAS) pictured. Designed by a team of student researchers, the device provides pitch authority and full roll authority, enabling new possibilities for hydrodynamic design.