The objective of this research is to develop principles and tools for the design of control systems using highly distributed, but slow, computational elements. The approach of this research is to build an architecture that uses highly parallelized, simple computational elements incorporating nonlinearities, time delay and asynchronous computation as integral design elements. Tools for the design of nondeterministic protocols will be developed and demonstrated using an existing multivehicle testbed at Caltech. The motivation for using "slow computing" is to develop new feedback control architectures for applications where computational power is extremely limited. Examples of such systems are those where the energy usage of the system must remain small, either due to the source of power available (e.g. batteries or solar cells) or the physical size of the device (e.g. microscale and nanoscale robots). A longer term application area is in the design of control systems using novel computing substrates, such as biological circuits. A critical element in both cases is the tight coupling between the dynamics of the underlying process and the temporal properties of the algorithm that is controlling it. The implementation plan for this project involves students from multiple disciplines (including bioengineering, computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering) as well as at multiple experience levels (sophomores through PhD students) working together on a set of interlinked research problems. The project is centered in the Control and Dynamical Systems department at Caltech, which has a strong record of recruiting women and underrepresented minority students into its programs.
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California Institute of Technology

National Science Foundation
Murray, Richard
Submitted by Richard Murray on April 7th, 2011