Published: Oct. 21, 2023

Panagiotis TsiotrasPanagiotis Tsiotras
Professor, School of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Tech
Friday, Oct. 27 | 10:40 a.m. | AERO 120

Abstract: Several industry and government organizations are currently considering autonomous and semi-autonomous spacecraft robotic proximity operations as an enabling technology for several future space missions, such as on-orbit spacecraft inspection, surveillance, servicing, interferometry, formation flying, and many others. A crucial element of this technology is its ability to reliably perform autonomous relative pose estimation and tracking for robotic systems in orbit.

Despite the tremendous recent advances in the field of ground robotics in terms of perception, learning, and control – mostly fueled by new AI algorithms and innovative computer hardware architectures – there are many difficulties that make similar implementations in a space environment much more challenging. These include, for example, harsh and rapidly changing illumination conditions (especially in LEO), long communication delays that limit human intervention in case of an emergency, severe resource (e.g., fuel, energy) constraints, much higher requirements for fail-safe operation, not to mention the physics themselves (Keplerian laws, momentum conservation constraints).

The pace of new research to solve these challenges is also hindered by the scarcity of suitable experimental platforms and methods to validate novel theories in a realistic space environment.  In this talk, we will look at several aspects of these challenges, and offer some suggestions for potential remedies.

Bio: Dr. Panagiotis Tsiotras is the David and Andrew Lewis Endowed Chair Professor at the School of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech, where he is also the Director of the Dynamics and Control Systems Laboratory and the Associate Director for Research for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (IRIM). He is also one of the founding members of the Center for Space Technology and Research (C-STAR) at Georgia Tech. He has held visiting research appointments with at Ecole des Mines (Mines ParisTech), INRIA-Rocquencourt in France, MIT, and JPL. He holds degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, and Mathematics.  His current research interests are in optimal and nonlinear control and their connections with robotics, AI, and decision-making for autonomous aerial, space, and ground vehicles.

He is currently the Chief Editor of the Frontiers and AI in the area of Space Robotics, and an Associate Editor of Dynamic Games and Applications, while in the past he served on the Editorial Boards of the AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, the IEEE Control Systems Magazine and the Journal on Dynamical and Control Systems. He is the recipient of the NSF Career Award, the IEEE Excellence Award in Aerospace Control, the Outstanding Aerospace Engineer award from Purdue, and the Sigma Xi Research Excellence Award. He is a Fellow of AIAA, IEEE, and AAS.



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