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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T005734/1
Title: Goal-Oriented Control Systems (GOCS): Disturbance, Uncertainty and Constraints
Principal Investigator: Chen, Professor W
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AVL California Institute of Technology Defence Science & Tech Lab DSTL
Department: Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering
Organisation: Loughborough University
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 February 2020 Ends: 31 January 2025 Value (£): 1,599,964
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Control Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
16 Sep 2019 Engineering Fellowship Interview Panel 17 and 18 September 2019 Announced
06 Aug 2019 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 6 and 7 August 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Control systems play a central role in automation and modern industry. By using feedback, control systems are designed to regulate system outputs around a reference setpoint or track a reference trajectory, despite disturbances and variations due to its operational environment; for example, an aircraft follows a specified speed and altitude despite gust, wind and changes typical of an aircraft (e.g. number of passengers). Performance specifications for control systems are typically defined to quantify their behaviours in terms of the defined reference. The analysis and design tools/methods across the entire area of control engineering are mainly developed and built upon these specifications. With the demand for ever increasing levels of automation, we are moving towards goal-oriented operation, where what a system needs to achieve is specified at a high level (e.g. in terms of economic or mission requirements), rather than how it is to be achieved (e.g. through defining a setpoint or trajectory). The goal-oriented operation improves the operation process, offers new opportunities for technological advances and reduces operational costs. A Goal-Oriented Control System (GOCS) is essential to enable this type of operation. Another significant difference in GOCS is the influence of disturbance/uncertainties on design specifications. Traditionally a central role of a control system is to attenuate the influence of external disturbance/uncertainties because they always divert the system away from a reference. However, certain disturbance may be good for the system operation in terms of a high-level goal. For example, changes in raw material or environment may make a chemical process more profitable so they should not be rejected; a favourable change of wind condition should be exploited, rather than rejected in an emergency landing as it helps the aircraft to glide longer, providing a larger safe margin in performing forced landing.

In current control system design, constraints (e.g. physical, operational, legal) are often considered explicitly or implicitly through generating appropriate references. However, as the system specifications will be defined at a high level in goal-oriented operation and the control system must work out how to achieve the specifications/goals, constraints must be specified very carefully in order to meet safety and other requirements. Some constraints are difficult to represent in the specifications or to take into account constraints within current control design.

This Fellowship will develop analysis and design tools for goal-oriented control systems, build up a unified framework for the next generation of control systems in performance specifications, constraint representation and problem formulating, investigate its performance and other properties in the presence of disturbance, uncertainties and constraints, and benchmark their applications. Temporal logic will be used to represent high level specifications and a wide range of complex constraints. By combining temporal logic with rich representation of dynamic systems in control engineering, it aims to develop a complete new analysis and design framework for GOCS that involves both rich dynamics and complex specifications in performance and constraints, and to provide analysis tools for the propagation of information errors, environmental disturbances and dynamic uncertainties into the high level performance specifications and fulfilment of constraints, and the interplay of these terms with a feedback strategy and controlled dynamics. The Fellowship programme is developed and built upon the Fellow's internationally leading work in disturbance observer-based control, model predictive control and autonomous vehicles in the last 25 years. The successful completion of the Fellowship will open a new field of goal-oriented control systems, transform control engineering and unlock the potential of moving from low levels to high levels of automation
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.lboro.ac.uk