CWI Lectures 2011 on new technologies in automation

Four internationally renowned mathematicians speech on 14 June at the CWI Lectures: Xi-Ren Cao, Fernando Lobo Pereira, and Demosthenis Teneketzis and P.R. Kumar. They will discuss control and system theory, focusing on distributed systems, which become increasingly important. Technological systems are becoming more complex with ever more deeply integrated automation. This calls for new developments in research. The talks are part of the CWI Lectures 2011, organized by the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam to celebrate the appointment of Prof. Jan H. van Schuppen as a CWI Fellow.

Stock Market
Xi-Ren Cao (Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, China) will talk about impulse control. He has developed a whole new outlook on the portfolio management problem. This world famous problem deals with the question of when and how to move on the stock market to take full advantage of the price trend of shares. CWI applies impulse control to determine when and how much one should invest in raising the dikes along the Dutch coast.

Cyber-physical systems
Another topic that will be addressed, discussed by P.R. Kumar (University of Illinois, USA), is the control of hybrid systems, also called cyber-physical systems, a next generation of integrated systems. Automated processes in a car use such systems. An application that currently is being studied is a fully automated and optimized control of moving container cranes (straddle carriers) in a port, where 'deadlocks' should be avoided.

Underwater vehicles
Unmanned vehicles also play a role in the lecture of Fernando Lobo Pereira (University of Porto, Portugal). He is working on the control of unmanned underwater vehicles. Such vehicles have recovered the black box of the crashed Airbus A330 from Air France in the Atlantic Ocean. For, for example, soil research they have to search the seabed as efficiently as possible. Where one vehicle has been, the other vehicle does not have to come anymore. So they save fuel. Communication between the little vehicles is very important. This communication uses energy from the limited supply. To find a control law that tells when to communication in order to deal with the limited energy supply as efficient as possible is a great challenge and an important research area. The results are applicable to various formations of unmanned vehicles, such as a formation of planes to detect forest fires.

Straddle carriers
The control of distributed systems, such as formations of unmanned underwater vehicles, airplanes, and moving straddle carriers, depends on when and where the information is exchanged between the vehicles. Demosthenis Teneketzis (University of Michigan, USA) has made significant progress in this area and, and is discussing it during the CWI Lectures.

CWI's research in the field of control and system theory is motivated by problems from engineering and systems biology. It fits well within the national themes of high-tech, logistics and life sciences. The institute is very active in these areas.

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Illustration: Autonomous Underwater Vehicle 'Isurus', source: João Sousa, University of Porto