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UTARI Seminar

UTARI Seminar is held the last Friday of each month at 12:00PM (noon). Each seminar highlights a different speaker who will discuss their latest research projects, cutting-edge technology or what is happening within certain technological industries. These industries include biomedical technologies or microsystems, assistive technologies, automation and intelligent systems, unmanned systems, advanced manufacturing and composite materials.


Dr. Nicholas Gans


Vision-Based Distributed Formation Control of Autonomous Vehicles


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have become increasingly smaller and affordable, while their onboard computational and communication capabilities have advanced significantly. It is now conceivable to deploy UAVs to collaboratively map and monitor an environment, inspect infrastructures, deliver goods, or manipulate objects. In these applications, the ability to bring the UAVs to a desired geometric shape is a fundamental foundation upon which more sophisticated activities and tasks can be constructed.

Dr. Gans will present a novel control strategy for a team of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to autonomously achieve a desired formation using only visual feedback provided by the UAVs’ onboard cameras. This effectively eliminates the need for global position measurements. The proposed pipeline is fully distributed and encompasses collision avoidance. In our approach, each UAV extracts feature points from captured images and communicates their pixel coordinates and descriptors among its neighbors. These feature points are used in our novel pose estimation algorithm, QuEst, to localize the neighboring UAVs. Compared to existing methods, QuEst has better estimation accuracy and is robust to feature point degeneracies. We demonstrate the proposed pipeline in a high-fidelity simulation environment and show that UAVs can achieve a desired formation in a natural environment without any fiducial markers.


Nicholas Gans is a Clinical Associate Professor in Electrical Engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas. His research interests include robotics, nonlinear and adaptive control, machine vision, and autonomous vehicles. His current research interests includes self-optimizing systems, novel vision-based estimation and control algorithms, and distributed control of multi-agent systems. These topics are applied in a wide variety of applications including autonomous vehicles, driver assistance, surveillance and search and rescue in challenging environments, powered prosthetics and surgical robotics. Dr. Gans has published over 100 conference and journal papers, and he holds three patents in these topics.

Dr. Gans earned his BS in electrical engineering from Case Western Reserve University in 1999, then his M.S. in electrical and computer engineering in 2002 and his Ph.D. in systems and entrepreneurial engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2005. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida and as a postdoctoral associate with the National Research Council, where he conducted research on control of autonomous aircraft for the Air Force Research Laboratory and developed the Visualization Laboratory for simulation of vision-based control systems. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE, Robotics and Automation Society and Control Systems Society.




12pm (noon)-1pm


7300 Jack Newell Boulevard South
Fort Worth, TX 76118-7115