Villanova Engineering Doctoral Student Wins Best Robotics Paper Award at National Conference

PhD Student Karl Fetzer
PhD Student Karl Fetzer

Villanova University College of Engineering PhD student Karl Fetzer won for Best Robotics paper at the 2017 ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Conference. “Backstepping Control of Underactuated Planar Vehicles with Nonholonomic Constraints” was also among the six finalists for the conference’s best student paper.

Fetzer’s paper reflects research conducted with his advisors Hashem Ashrafiuon, PhD, Mechanical Engineering professor and director of the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics and Control, and Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Sergey Nersesov, PhD. It documents the development of a backstepping controller to track a generic underactuated planar vehicle along a trajectory, the implementation of the controller for a surface vessel model in simulation, and its performance validation in experiments. Fetzer explains, “The tracking controller design is made possible by taking the six position / orientation and velocity states and transforming them into four error states. Designing the controller for a generic vehicle means that several different vehicle types can track a trajectory as long as they each satisfy the vehicle’s nonholonomic constraints.” This backstepping controller can be applied to mobile robots, aircraft in the vertical plane and surface vessels.

The Dynamic Systems and Control Conference is the showcase technical forum of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Dynamic Systems and Control Division. It provides a setting for dissemination and discussion of the state of the art in dynamic systems and control research, with a mechanical engineering focus.