Funding AgencyDepartment of Defense
Effective Date2016-09-01
Expiration Date2017-08-31
Funding Amount$456,886


The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, under authority of 10 U.S.C. ¤ 2362 and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OASD(R&E)), allocated $28 million to assist Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions (HBCU/MI) with equipment and instrumentation enhancements to improve their research and education capabilities in scientific disciplines important to the defense mission. The program aims enhance the capacity of HBCU/MI to participate broadly in defense research programs and activities and to increase the number of graduates, including underrepresented minorities, in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This proposal requests assistance for the acquisition of equipment to develop new research capabilities at the Autonomous Vehicle Systems (AVS) Research and Education Laboratory at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW). The AVS Lab is housed in the School of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering and managed by the PI. The long-term research goal for the AVS Lab is to investigate techniques that control the effects of uncertainty in the collaborative control of heterogeneous autonomous systems. The purchase of the equipment will allow the AVS Lab to develop new techniques in model predictive control, decentralized control of complex systems, machine learning for decision making, and then demonstrate the effectiveness of these techniques using the equipment from this grant funding. Additionally, the new equipment will give the AVS Lab the ability to develop and test new algorithms starting from theory, to computer simulation, then hard-in-the-loop testing, and finally full vehicle demonstration; an ability that is currently lacking in the lab. HBCU/MI funds will allow the AVS Lab to develop an important new research capability in formation and collaborative control for UIW and create new learning opportunities for engineering students that currently do not exist at UIW.

The proposed acquisition includes the following equipment: 1) Eight Quanser Qball2 quadcopters and eight Qbot2 ground vehicles for formation and collaborative control research, 2) Two Quanser Q-Brain avionics data acquisition systems for real-time hardware-in-the-loop simulation and testing for autonomous air vehicle research, 3) Upgrade of the four existing Quanser Qball-X4 quadcopters to the new Qball2 configuration for increased mission performance, 4) One Quanser 3-DOF Quadcopter hover platform for hardware-in-the-loop simulation and testing of quadcopter dynamics, 5) One Quanser 3-DOF Helicopter platform with the Active Disturbance Module for hardware-in-the-loop simulation and testing of rotorcraft dynamics with swaying cargo load, 6) One Quanser 6-DOF MICO Research Arm for autonomous vehicle medical evacuation and telemedicine research, 7) 18 Quanser QuaRC Network Software Licenses for rapid control prototyping with Simulink, and 8) 10 MATLAB and Simulink licenses for software development.

The proposed equipment will contribute significantly to the understanding of the collaborative control of a formation of multi-agent autonomous systems in uncertain dynamic environments. This research will have a direct impact on such DoD mission requirements as long endurance UAV formation flying, long distance autonomous logistical missions, and autonomous medical evacuations. The addition of the new equipment will enhance the STEM curriculum at UIW and assist to graduate diverse and highly-qualified professionals who fill STEM occupations of national need. High School and Middle School teachers and students will have the opportunity to work in the laboratory through the various Summer Program hosted at UIW each year.