CENDAC - News & Events

Dynamic Systems, Control and Automation Lunch Workshop Lectures at PNBC

Workshop lectures from Oct. 24th through Dec. 12th can be found here.

CENDAC Announces Its Fall Seminar Speaker

CENDAC is pleased to announce that Dr. George T. Chiu will be its seminar speaker for Fall 2012. Dr. George Chiu is a Professor at School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University. He is currently the program manager for NSF Control Systems Program, Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation.

Speaker: Dr. George Chiu
Date: September 21, 2012
Time: 2:00 – 3:30 pm
Location: Tolentine 215, Villanova University main campus

Villanova’s RoboBoat finishes second in the AUVSI Foundation and ONR's 6th International RoboBoat Competition!

The RoboBoat Competition is a student robotics challenge in which teams race autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) of their own design through an aquatic obstacle course. The RoboBoat Competition is a student robotics challenge in which teams race autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) of their own design through an aquatic obstacle course. Student’s from Villanova University under the leadership of CENDAC Professor, Dr. C. Nataraj, finished second in the RoboBoat 2012 competition. Below is a message from Dr. Nataraj regarding this achievement:

“It is my pleasure to let you know that we put in our best performance to date in the autonomous surface vehicle competition (called “Roboboat’ now).  We won first place in qualifying and second place in the finals, and came home with a $5,000 check.  Our new boat navigated a difficult buoy channel autonomously (and repeatedly - no fluke!), and even came very close to finishing two tasks (in the qualifying round).  Absolutely fabulous performance and very satisfying!  No issues of hardware conflicts, mysterious sensor data, and all those weird issues we used to have.  The decision we made to go with newly designed mechanical and electrical hardware was – in retrospect – the right one to make.  The competition was webcast live; a lot of information is on http://roboboat.org.  The kids worked very hard and long – kudos to them.

Much of the software and the algorithms underlying it were inherited from previous years, and a lot of people deserve credit for this performance.  The team at the event consisted of Nick DiLeo, Joe Denny, Ryan Holihan, Alex Poultney, and Mike Weber (CpE).  Ralph Sullivan had been the Captain until he graduated; in addition, on the team this year were Lester McMackin and Shahriar Khan (ECE), who was our electrical guy whose handiwork shows up everywhere; Helen Loeb and DongBin Lee were recent advisors working with me, and Garrett Clayton has been co-advising and helping out a lot recently, especially with video.  A lot of the really sophisticated code was written by Jevon Avis when he was a PhD student.  Spicer Bak was an advisor for a year (who is now at Stevens working on his PhD).  Frank Ferrese and (now, Dr.) Karthik Kappaganthu wrote a lot of the initial codes for obstacle avoidance and brainstormed early in the project development some of which still guides our thinking.  And, I am sure I have left out many more students who worked hard on this project.  Thanks to all! 

We couldn’t have done anything of course without funding from ONR, and, very importantly, a dedicated lab space in Garey Hall.

We are going to make some critical changes this year and go for the gold next year.  I have no doubt that we will get it. In particular, we will probably integrate stereo vision and write better algorithms for video navigation, and make things a lot less heuristic.  Robustness and repeatability need to be at least 90% (I estimate it at 30% right now for many tasks).”

Qualifying run videos:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnIPYuC8CIo&list=UU9rOKTsBPg_HDPVL3JJFN8Q&index=2&feature=plcp
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHcleLb3lZs&list=UU9rOKTsBPg_HDPVL3JJFN8Q&index=1&feature=plcp

Final run webcast

CENDAC First 2012 Seminar Speaker

CENDAC is pleased to announce that Professor Naomi Leonard will be its inaugural seminar speaker. Dr. Naomi Ehrich Leonard is the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and associated faculty member of the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University. Her research is in nonlinear control and dynamics with current interests in coordinated control for multi-agent systems, mobile sensor networks, collective animal behavior and decision dynamics in mixed human/robot teams. She received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2004 and the Mohammed Dahleh Award in 2005. She is a Fellow of the IEEE and the ASME.

Dr. Leonard will be discussing analytic approaches for examining information passing through social interactions and group decision making, and exploring group robustness to external environmental stimuli in moving animal groups, such as bird flocks and fish schools.

Speaker: Professor Naomi Ehrich Leonard
: Information passing and collective animal behavior
: January 27, 2012
: 2:30 pm
: Tolentine 215, Villanova University main campus


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Dr. Hashem Ashrafiuon
800 Lancaster Ave
Villanova University
Villanova, PA 19085

Dr. Hashem Ashrafiuon