Robotics & Control Structure Interaction

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Robotics and Controls Analysis

At ATA, we view the areas of robotics and controls from a multidisciplinary perspective in which kinematics, dynamics, and control systems (and potentially other fields) combine to form a problem solved through a variety of possible hardware and software solutions.

With a diverse set of education and experience backgrounds, the robotics and controls team at ATA supports both services to industrial customers and technology research and development. Our services include control system design, developing physical models, mechanical system design, and operational testing. We are actively supporting clients in industries such as entertainment, aeronautics, and materials processing.

Control-Structure Interaction

ATA’s core strength in structural dynamics testing and analysis is instrumental in developing robust and reliable control systems that must operate in the presence of dominant structural dynamics. Originating from our support of operational testing of rockets and boosters, these skills are used to meet the emerging needs in many fields, including entertainment systems, industrial systems, and advanced aircraft. Designers of show action equipment and animatronics benefit from our services when system dynamics fall outside the applicability of traditional PID controllers, as the control problem can quickly become nonlinear under certain operating conditions. Similar complex problems that benefit from our multidisciplinary expertise are present in aircraft where the interaction of aerodynamic control surfaces, such as wings and tails, and changing aerodynamic forces is extremely challenging.

Control of Dynamical Systems

ATA supports customers in a variety of industries with mechatronic system design, analysis, and test, including control system design and hardware development. These dynamical systems typically have multiple controlled degrees of freedom requiring simultaneous control of a suite of interacting sensors and actuators. Examples where this expertise has been used include animatronic figures, motion-based platforms, and articulated rides.

Our control system design and hardware development services and areas of expertise include the following:

  • Requirements development: hardware specification, performance specification, input/output channels, arithmetic throughput, power needs
  • Hardware and software architecture definition and development
  • Control system design using tools such as MATLAB, Simulink, and Modelica
  • Embedded control systems using microprocessor SoCs, ruggedized Mil-Spec hardware, lab-grade chassis, and rack-mounted systems
  • Compact, low-power, and low-cost solutions: Beagle Bone Black, Raspberry Pi, Qualcomm SnapDragon, Arduino
  • PLC-based SIL 3 redundant high-reliability and high-safety automation systems

Pointing and Control of Optical Systems

Maintaining accurate component alignment and minimizing image jitter are paramount to ensuring proper functioning of optical systems. This can be a challenging multidisciplinary problem when structural, thermal, and control systems interact, and even more so in aerospace applications where lightweight components and extreme environments compound the issues. When solving these problems, ATA draws from its extensive multidisciplinary experience to avoid the pitfalls of piecemeal control system design and instead develop comprehensive solutions that address the entire problem. Examples of ATA’s experience in this area include space telescopes, Earth-orbiting imaging instruments (in visible, UV, or RF), and large ground telescopes.

Autonomous Air and Ground Vehicle Applications

ATA has been involved in the design and development of several autonomous robotic systems for applications in acoustic field mapping, weather measurements, and operation in extreme environments. The complex interaction of disparate vehicle environmental loading scenarios and reactions is complex, but our multidisciplinary background enables us to take a holistic approach to finding comprehensive solutions for autonomous control.

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