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Selected Publications

Cluster Space Formation Control of Multirobot Systems: The Lab is the home of the cluster space multirobot formation control technique. This is a full degree-of-freedom operational space control strategy with formalized mathematics, provably stable behavior, and applicability to a wide range of land/sea/air systems. The technique envisions a group of robots as a virtual articulating mechanism and allows a single pilot or a higher-level automated controller to specify desired motions and the geometric characteristics of the group in a simple, intuitive manner. Key publications include:

C. Kitts and I. Mas, “Cluster Space Specification and Control of Multi-Robot Systems,” IEEE/ASME Trans. On Mechatronics, v14 n2, pp. 207-218, 2009.

I. Mas and C. Kitts, “Dynamic Control of Mobile Multirobot Systems,” IEEE Access, v2, pp. 558-570, 2014.

Adaptive navigation of environmental scalar fields: The Lab is a leader in multirobot techniques to adaptively locate and move along points of interest in an environmental scalar field (e.g., a region over which a parameter varies, such as temperature, radiation level, or the concentration of a pollutant). In particular, we have developed a hierarchical control technique based on our cluster space formation controller that allows us to use multirobot clusters to find these interesting points without exhaustively mapping the entire region. Capabilities of interest include locating the max/min points in a field, moving along contours, moving down/up ridge/trench formations, locating saddle points, and moving along frontlines. These capabilities are fundamental for applications such as disaster response, environmental monitoring/characterization, exploration and security.

T. Adamek, C. Kitts, and I. Mas, “Gradient-based Cluster Space Navigation for Autonomous Surface Vessels,” IEEE/ASME Trans. on Mechatronics, vol 20 no 2, pp. 506-518, 2014.

C. Kitts, R. McDonald, M. Neumann, “Adaptive Navigation Control Primitives for Multirobot Clusters,” IEEE Access, vol 6, pp. 17625-17642, 2018.

Additional Applications of our Work in Cluster Space Multirobot Control: In addition to using our cluster space control technique to enable adaptive navigation capabilities, we have applied it for a wide range of other applications that benefit from distributed functionality.  These applications include escorting and guarding other objects, manipulating/transporting large objects, and optimally tracking targets.
I. Mas, S. Li, J. Acain, and C. Kitts, "Entrapment/Escorting and Patrolling Missions in Multi-Robot Cluster Space," 2009 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, St. Louis, MO, 2009, pp. 5855-5861, 2009.
P. Mahacek, C. Kitts, and I. Mas, "Dynamic Guarding of Marine Assets Through Cluster Control of ASV Fleets," IEEE/ASME Trans. on Mechatronics, vol 17 no 1, pp. 65-75, 2012.
M. Neumann and C. Kitts, "A Hybrid Multirobot Control Architecture for Object Transport," IEEE/ASME Trans. on Mechatronics, vol 21 no 6, pp. 2983-2988, 2016.
J. Cashbaugh and C. Kitts, "Vision-Based Object Tracking Using an Optimally Positioned Cluster," IEEE Systems Journal, vol 12 no 2, pp. 1423-1434, 2018.
Causal/Model-based AI for anomaly management: We have developed a comprehensive model-based conceptual framework for different types of anomalies that occur in functional engineering systems, to include a unified framework for their detection, diagnosis and resolution. We have been applying this to the operational control of the robotic systems we build and deploy.
C. Kitts, “Managed Space System Anomalies Using First Principles Reasoning,” IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, vol 13 no 4, pp. 39-50, 2006.
Novel robotic system design: Given the needs of our sponsors and collaborators, we design custom robotic systems and technology. Examples include SWATH boats for autonomous bathymetric mapping (used in Lake Tahoe), a novel high-temperature water sampler using shape memory alloy triggers (deployed in the Pacific Ocean), and a reconfigurable passive magnetic satellite stabilization system.
C. Kitts, P. Mahacek, T. Adamek, K. Rasal, V. Howard, S. Li, A. Badaoui, W. Kirkwood, G. Wheat, and S. Hulme, “Field Operations of a Robotic Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull Boat,” Journal of Field Robotics, vol 29 no 6, pp. 924-938, 2012.

Contact Us

Director: Dr. Chris Kitts

Santa Clara University
School of Engineering
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053

Discovery and Innovation, Bldg. 402