Design of structured controllers for vehicular platoons

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In a vehicular platoon (a chain of vehicles with tight spacing), each car controls the distance to its neighbors. This distance is supposed to be quite short (meters in real applications). The vehicles can (or does not have to) share information among each other. In any case, the information should have only local nature, e. g. the nearest k neighbors. When the whole platoon is modeled as a single large-order dynamical system, the communication structure is reflected into the structure of the corresponding mathematical model of the system. Unfortunately, this structure is not preserved when standard off-the-shelf computational routines are called for a design of a controller for such systems. The goal of this thesis is therefore to test and evaluate several recent approaches for structured controller design for a vehicular platoon. These are mostly already implemented in software (open-source HIFOO function and commercial Hinstruct functions are notable examples).

The main constraint is that the controller should use only local information, that is the states or outputs of the neighboring vehicles. No global knowledge as in classical LQ control will be assumed. The algorithms will be tested in Matlab first, and then they can be applied to our slot-car testbed with several cars. The cars are equipped with Zigbee and Nordic communication interfaces.

Excellent students may be offered a part-time "assistant researcher" position either during the summer only or during the whole academic year.

Contact person: 
Ivo Herman
Video: Experiments with distributed control of a platoon of autonomous racing slot cars
Video: Distributed control of a platoon of autonomous racing slot cars