Keynote Addresses and Talks


Title: Tensegrity Engineering: Integrating the Design of Structure, Control, and Signal Processing

Robert Skelton
TEES Distinguished Research Professor
Texas A&M University

Dr. Robert Skelton is a TEES Distinguished Research Professor, and faculty fellow at Texas A&M University, Institute for Advanced Study. From 1975-1996, Dr. Skelton served as a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue University. In 1996, he became director of UCSD’s Structural Systems and Control Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). In 2006, UCSD named Dr. Skelton the Daniel L. Alspach Professor of Dynamics Systems and Controls in the Jacobs School of Engineering and professor emeritus in 2009. Dr. Skelton is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, an Emeritus fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a life member of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. His major awards include the SKYLAB Achievement Award, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Award, the Humboldt Foundation Senior US Scientist Award, the Norman Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Humboldt Foundation Research Award, and the NASA Appreciation Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

It is well-known that the various disciplines that design the individual components of the final system are not coordinated, except in an ad hoc way. This paper takes some steps toward the formal integration of Structure, Control, and Signal Processing designs. To integrate structure and control we employ the tensegrity structural paradigm. To integrate signal processing and control we employ the new work called Information Architecture, where the precisions and locations of all sensors and actuators are coordinated with the control design, which are all dictated by the closed loop performance requirements, including a cost constraint on the hardware. We assume that sensor or actuator costs are proportional to the precision of the instrument. The design constraints are: i) the cost of all sensors and actuators must be less than a specified budget, $, ii) the control energy must satisfy a specified upper-bound, U, iii) the closed loop performance must satisfy a specified covariance upper-bound, Y, of the output error, iv) adjustable parameters of the structure are coordinated with the joint structure/control design to achieve the required performance bounds, Y. Given a hardware budget $, and performance budgets U and Y, the paper shows what performance (Y) is achievable for a fixed cost $ and a fixed energy budget U. Alternatively, for a fixed performance and energy budget (Y,U) the paper shows the minimum hardware costs $ required to achieve this performance.

Louis D. Friedman
Planetary Society Executive Director Emeritus
Pasadena, CA

Co-founder of The Planetary Society, with Carl Sagan and Bruce C. Murray, he has been a guiding force with the Society for over 30 years and remains as excited as ever about humanity's journey into the solar system. His college career began when Sputnik launched the space age. Lou earned a B.S. in Applied Mathematics and Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin in 1961, followed by an M.S. in Engineering Mechanics at Cornell University in 1963. He earned his Ph.D. from the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at M.I.T. in 1971 with a thesis on Extracting Scientific Information from Spacecraft Tracking Data. From 1963-1968, Lou worked at the AVCO Space Systems Division on both civilian and military space programs. The following decade, 1970-1980, found him at JPL, involved in planning deep space missions. His projects included Mariner-Venus-Mercury, the Grand Tour (Voyager), Venus Orbital Imaging Radar (Magellan), Halley Comet Rendezvous-Solar Sail, and the Mars Program. In 1978-79, Lou went to Washington, DC as the AIAA Congressional Fellow and worked on the staff of the subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He frequently returns to Washington, DC to testify to Congress regarding important issues concerning the space science community and the members of The Planetary Society. Although the solar sail never launched for Halley's Comet, the concept of using light to propel a spacecraft intrigued Lou so much that he wrote a book on the subject, Starsailing: Solar Sails and Interstellar Flight, and led Cosmos 1, the solar sail mission created by The Planetary Society and Cosmos Studios. He also conceived the Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment developed by The Planetary Society. Lou stepped down from the Executive Director position in 2010. Since then he has been co-leader of the Asteroid Redirect Mission program for the Keck Institute for Space Studies at Caltech and is completing a book that examines the future of human spaceflight from Mars to the stars. Dr. Friedman is a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics.

Recovery of Function in Major Spinal Cord Injury Using Learning-Guided Spinal Stimulatione

Joel W. Burdick
Mechanical Engineering, Control & Dynamical Systems
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125

Joel Burdick received his undergraduate degrees in mechanical engineering and chemistry from Duke University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. He has been with the department of Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology since May 1988, where he has been the recipient of the NSF Presidential Young Investigator award, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, and the Feynman Fellowship. He has been a finalist for the best paper award for the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in 1993, 1999, 2000, 2005, and 2016. He was appointed an IEEE Robotics Society Distinguished Lecturer in 2003, and received the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough award in 2011. Prof. Burdick’s current research interests include rehabilitation of spinal cord injuries, nonlinear control of mechanical systems, sensor-based robot motion planning, and multi-fingered robotic hand manipulation.

Approximately 5,000,000 worldwide suffer from a serious spinal cord injury (SCI). Not only do the injured lose the ability to stand and walk (and sometimes move their arms), they suffer from additional injury-induced complications including loss of bladder and bowel control, decreased cardiovascular and pulmonary health, inability to regulate body temperature, and loss of muscle strength and bone density. The totality of the injury and its secondary dysfunctions makes daily activities of living a challenge. Because the median age of SCI in the U.S. is 32 years, SCI individuals amass an additional $1.4-$4.2 million in healthcare costs over their lifetimes.
A team of researchers at Caltech, UCLA, and Univ. of Louisville have been developing new technologies and new therapies for motor complete SCI patients—those who have lost motor control below the level of their injury. The centerpiece of this approach is a multi-electrode array that is implanted over the lumbosacral spinal cord either in in the epidural space between the dura and the interior of the vertebral canal, or on the skin over this area. When this technology is coupled with locomotor training and drug therapy (when possible), SCI patients receiving this therapy can stand independently and make some voluntary movements (after being in a wheel chair for over 3 years). More importantly, they can expect to make useful gains in cardiovascular health, muscle tone, as well as improved autonomic function such as bladder, bowel, blood pressure, and temperature regulation. After first reviewing our clinical successes, this talk will focus on current research on new machine algorithms for automated tuning of the stimuli parameters.

The Role of Infinite Dimensional Direct Adaptive Control in Autonomous Systems and Quantum Information Systems

Mark J. Balas
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University,
Daytona Beach, Florida, USA

Mark Balas is a distinguished faculty member in Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He was formerly the Guthrie Nicholson Professor of Electrical Engineering and former Head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Wyoming. He has the following technical degrees: PhD in Mathematics, MS Electrical Engineering, MA Mathematics, and BS Electrical Engineering. He has held various positions in industry, academia, and government. Among his careers, he has been a university professor for over 30 years with RPI, MIT, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Wyoming, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and has mentored 44 doctoral students. He has over 350 publications in archive journals, refereed conference proceedings and technical book chapters. He has been visiting faculty with the Institute for Quantum Information and the Control and Dynamics Division at the California Institute of Technology, the US Air Force Research Laboratory-Kirtland AFB, the NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the NASA Ames Research Center, and was the Associate Director of the University of Wyoming Wind Energy Research Center and adjunct faculty with the School of Energy Resources. He is a life fellow of the AIAA, a life fellow of the IEEE, and a fellow of ASME. But if he ever becomes famous it will be because he is the father of the Denver drum and bass DJ known as Despise, who is his daughter Maggie.

Many control systems are inherently infinite dimensional when they are described by partial differential equations. Currently, there is renewed interest in the control of these kinds of systems, especially in the quantum information field. Since the dynamics of these systems will not be perfectly known, it is especially of interest to control these systems adaptively and even autonomously via low-order finite-dimensional controllers. In our work, we have developed direct model reference adaptive control and disturbance rejection with very low-order adaptive gain laws for infinite –dimensional systems on Hilbert spaces. Quantum Information Systems are fundamentally infinite dimensional. And the basic operations that can be performed on quantum systems to manipulate information are unitary quantum gates. Because of the nature of entanglement at the quantum level, these gates suffer from decoherence and cannot operate in a fully unitary way. It is also quite difficult to perform experiments that would identify all the parametric data needed to create precise models of a particular quantum system. Instead, direct adaptive control that is suited to infinite dimensional systems could provide a reduction in the decoherence and allow the quantum gates to function in a more idealized unitary way. This talk will focus on the effect of infinite dimensionality on the adaptive control approach and the conditions required for asymptotic stability with adaptive control. Then I would like to go on and consider some of the issues in the control of quantum information systems. The topics here may sound highly technical, but I hope to give you a version of them that will be reasonably accessible and will still remain as exciting and attractive to you as they are to me.

Some Ambitious NASA Mission Concepts

Brian Wilcox
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadeba, CA 91109, USA

Brian is a JPL Fellow and the Manager of the JPL Space Robotics Technologies Program at JPL since 2010. He has a B.S. Physics and B.A. Mathematics, University of California at Santa Barbara (highest honors) (1973) and a M.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California (1993). In the 1980s he worked as robotics engineer assigned to Mars Rover Sample Return Mission. Between 1985 and 2005 he was the Supervisor, JPL Robotic Vehicles Group, during which time the group was responsible for the development of the Sojourner Mars Rover electronics, on-board software, mission operations software tool development, and the actual mission operations of Sojourner. Group members continued in similar key roles on MER and MSL rovers.Between 1995 and 2003 he was the Principal Investigator of the Nanorover and Nanorover Outposts and from 2004 to present, the Principal Investigator of the All-Terrain Hex-Limbed, Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (ATHLETE) which has six wheels on the ends of six limbs that can be used for general-purpose manipulation as well as extreme-terrain mobility. He was awarded NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, for contributions to planetary rover research in 1992.

Banquet Address

John M. Goodman, Ph.D.

John M. Goodman is a writer, designer, consultant, and inventor. Educated at Swarthmore College (B.A. in Physics with minors in Math and Chemistry) and Cornell University (Ph.D. in Physics with a minor in the History of Science and Technology), he has taught at a variety of high-profile institutions including Harvey Mudd College and California Institute of the Arts. He also has been a consultant to numerous organizations including Scientific American magazine, the Charles and Rae Eames design studio, and Intelligent Optical Systems, among others. He is an author (with eight published books and numerous articles, so far), an inventor, a grant writer, and has taught physical science, mathematics, computer science and practical computer maintenance in a wide range of venues. He was President of one of the largest computer user groups in the nation as well as a respected journalist writing for InfoWorld and Byte magazines. He also founded and ran an interactive science museum, The Experience Center, which was the predecessor to the Discovery Science Center (now Discovery Cube) in Santa Ana and Los Angeles, CA. He is a life member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi and has at times been a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Museums, American Association of Physics Teachers, American Physical Society, Computer Press Association, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Mensa, Museum Educators of Southern California, and the Orange County Arts Alliance.

Invited Talks

The Foundations of Robustness in Reconfigurability in a Radiation Environment: Understanding Single-Event Effects Test Results on SRAM-based FPGAs

Gary Swift
Swift Engineering & Radiation Services

Gary M. Swift has spent the last twenty-five plus years going to accelerators and testing electrical components for their suitability for use in space radiation environments. Gary received a B.S. in Engineering Physics from the University of Oklahoma in 1975 and did graduate work in Nuclear Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After almost two decades at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, he "retired" as a principal engineer in 2007, and moved to Xilinx, help develop and test their space-worthy FPGAs. Currently, Gary is the Principal Engineer at the independent consulting firm Swift Engineering and Radiation Services, LLC which he founded, specializing in best-practice SEE testing of complex ICs such as FPGAs and microprocessors. He has publications on a broad range of radiation effects testing including total dose and displacement damage and many single-event effects; for example, in 1992, he coined the now widely used term SEFI. He is co-author on two paper papers that received the NSREC Outstanding Paper Award (in 1999 and 2015). Back in 2001, Gary, then at JPL, and Carl Carmichael of Xilinx started the Xilinx Radiation Test Consortium, a voluntary group of national labs, universities and aerospace companies that collaborate on SEE testing, and he has served as the XRTC main test coordinator and weekly telecom moderator to the present day.

Why Does Life Start, What Does It Do, Where Will It Be, And How Might We Find It?

Dr. Michael Russell
Principal Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology

Dr. Michael Russell is a Principal Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology where he is testing his theory on the emergence of life. His life has come full circle from his first job as a works chemist in East London, England, testing the activity of nickel catalysts for organic synthesis; attending the University of London to studying geology, chemistry and physics; taking a post at the Solomon Islands Geological Survey to search for submarine hot springs, assess volcanic hazard and explore for mineral deposits and continuing the latter activity in Canada before returning to the University of Durham in the UK to undertake research on the newly discovered giant mineral deposits in Ireland—research that led to his theorizing into the emergence of life at submarine springs. He became the Dixon Research Professor at the University of Glasgow in 1990 and moved to JPL in 2006.

Life was driven into being on our planet to resolve the disequilibria between the
fuels hydrogen and methane emanating from submarine alkaline springs, as
against the carbon dioxide dissolved in the acidulous ocean from the atmosphere.
The two fluids were kept at bay by the precipitation of iron minerals at the
spring. It was in the mineral barriers that this free energy was first converted via
a protometabolism to organic molecules. Thus, we can say that life
hydrogenated, and still hydrogenates, carbon dioxide. Therefore, we may expect
life to emerge on any wet and rocky world that has a partly carbon dioxide-rich
ocean. One possible example is on Europa (see Figure). It should reveal itself
either as whole cells or as bioorganic molecules that themselves are far-from-thermodynamic