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AEM Professor Ryan Caverly Receives DEPSCoR Award

AEM Professor, Ryan Caverly, will receive up to $600,000 over a three-year period of performance to pursue science and engineering research in areas relevant to DoD initiatives supporting the National Defense Strategy.

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (05/03/2021) - University of Minnesota (UMN) Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics (AEM) Professor Ryan Caverly received a Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) award. UMN AEM Professor Maziar Hemati will be serving as co-PI/mentor on the project.  Their team will receive up to $600,000 over a three-year period of performance to pursue science and engineering research in areas relevant to DoD initiatives supporting the National Defense Strategy.

DEPSCoR is a congressionally mandated, capacity building program that is designed to strengthen the basic research infrastructure at institutions of higher education in underutilized states and territories. The program is managed by the Directorate of Defense Research and Engineering for Research and Technology (DDRE(R&T)) within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

Caverly’s project “On‐the‐Fly Flight Test Maneuver Optimization and Nonlinear Modeling of Hypersonic Systems” was chosen from over 160 white papers, from which subject-matter experts in the military services selected the final 17 collaborative teams. The goal of the project is to develop a unified testing and evaluation approach for hypersonic flight systems that involves optimizing both the design of flight test maneuvers and the extraction of reliable control-oriented models.

High-precision control of a hypersonic flight system traveling at speeds higher than Mach 5 requires knowledge of an accurate control-oriented flight model. Numerical simulations can provide insight into the flight model, but ultimately, flight tests are needed to identify the complex dynamics of hypersonic flight. Unfortunately, hypersonic flight test opportunities are limited, typically short in duration, and accompanied by substantial risk.

Caverly and Hemati plan to develop a framework that optimizes flight test maneuvers and extracts nonlinear models relevant for high-precision control of hypersonic systems, while guaranteeing airworthiness during testing. They will make use of mathematical techniques from data-driven dynamical systems and robust control theory to perform nonlinear modeling, uncertainty quantification, and stability analysis. The research team will also investigate an "on the fly" flight testing approach, which will involve recursively refining the flight model with incoming data and re-optimizing the flight test maneuvers during the flight test itself.

Caverly says, “This project brings together the complementary expertise that Maziar's group has in the areas of data-driven modeling and analysis, and my group's focus on optimal and robust control theory. Combining these capabilities will allow us to develop a unified approach to flight test maneuver optimization and modeling.”

Professor Caverly joined the department in 2018. His research interests include the dynamic modeling and control of aerospace, mechanical, and robotics systems. In particular, he is interested in theoretical developments related to input-output stability, as well as optimal and robust control of linear and nonlinear systems. His applied research focuses on accurate, yet computationally-efficient, dynamic modeling of systems with structural flexibility, such as flexible aircraft, spacecraft, and robotic manipulators, as well as the use of new and existing theory to control these systems.