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Research & Development Areas

Applications Scope

AGNC is a dynamic organization that strives for innovations and the infusion of newly emerging technologies within a variety of systems. Starting as a guidance and navigation company, our efforts have expanded into multiple complementary areas with the primary goals of increasing reliability, enhancing autonomy, and obtaining a better understanding of systems. Critical and complex systems are the primary target in AGNC's applications. AGNC's extensive R&D approach blends five areas of work encompassing guidance navigation, control, and communications; complex systems analysis; unmanned systems and robotics; health monitoring and sensors; intelligent systems and computer vision.

 

Research and Development Areas

Guidance, Navigation, Control, and Communications (GNCC)

Since its establishment in 1986, AGNC has been actively involved in the development of advanced Guidance, Navigation, Control, and Communications and the automation and integration for autonomous vehicles, robotics, ground vehicles, aircraft, marine vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, missiles, spacecraft, and satellites. Inertial navigation devices comprise the core navigation technology which is expanded with GPS/INS integration schemes, vision-based guidance (image processing), advanced filtering, simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), among others. AGNC also has a rich history in the utilization of advanced control algorithms (fuzzy logic control, neural network based controllers, robust and adaptive control) for a variety of vehicle platforms. AGNC then expanded these GNC efforts to also include the communications field (hence, GNCC) where current areas of work involve: optimized routing protocols, mesh networks, low power wireless networks, cellular networks, high speed data links, etc.

Intelligent Systems and Neuroscience

  • Intelligent Systems and Computer Vision

    Artificial Intelligence techniques enable the realization of cognitive systems, where involved methodologies include: vision systems, stochastic expert systems, Bayesian leaning, Artificial Neural Network paradigms, cognitive processing, relational reasoning, planning and scheduling, distributed software architectures, and agents design. Leveraging high level cognition functions for aiding the decision support process (such as tactical decisions in military applications and troubleshooting in the PHM field) and workflow analysis are key activities at AGNC. In addition, our vision systems provide machine perception, where advanced digital image processing techniques are blended with intelligent pattern recognition methods for highly accurate and real-time analysis.
  • Neuroscience
    Due to the current challenges within the neuroscience field, there are still several areas of opportunity for new innovations that can have a beneficial impact on system autonomy, performance, and reliability. AGNC is actively developing technologies that address the science and engineering aspects of new learning methods (including architectures, learning theory, analysis of network dynamics, self-organization, cognitive science, computational learning, genetic algorithms, and machine learning) for a wide range of applications (such as image processing, computer vision, diagnostics, prognostics, control, robotics, optimization, scheduling, resource allocation, signal processing, forecasting, among others).

Advanced Modeling and Automated Complex Systems Analysis

Complex systems engineering deals with understanding the sophisticated interrelations among systems, subsystems, and components, where even simple design changes can have a significant impact throughout these elements. Advanced modeling that takes into consideration an element's healthy and degradation effects combined with stochastic techniques and state-of-the-art health monitoring for automated analysis together provide a road-map for addressing complex systems analysis and visualization in a complete way. As such, AGNC is developing new tools that will improve the design process by making the interactions among a multitude of subsystems and components clear and also allow for reducing the semantic gap among engineers across multiple disciplines.

Unmanned Systems and Robotics

Enhancing system autonomy by infusing technologies that compile advanced robust control, navigation architectures, and health monitoring is a key focus at AGNC. Areas of work include: (a) sensor failure detection by the analysis of system redundancies; (b) robust low level control implementations; (c) robot virtual reality; (d) advanced system simulation; and (e) high level cognitive functions applied to navigation, mapping, vision, information abstraction, etc. The AGNC coremicro Robots serve as ideal platforms for integrating new technologies to reduce operator workload and increase autonomy and include target detection and tracking, obstacle avoidance, localization, terrain mapping, navigation and route formulation, resource allocation, among others. However, the developed technologies can be applied across a wide range of other systems as well, where specific applications include: (i) UAV based surveillance and recognition; (ii) surgical support by miniaturized robots; (iii) layered sensing architectures for military command and control; and (iv) terrain analysis and classification by computer vision.

Prognostics Health Monitoring and Smart Sensors

  • Prognostics and Health Monitoring (PHM)
    PHM optimizes system reliability and supports maintenance operations (Condition Based Maintenance, CBM) as well as automated logistics (depot management and the supply chain). Depending on the application, PHM realizations involve: sensing technologies, distributed architectures, system modeling, failure analysis and characterization, robust pattern recognition techniques, and regression. AGNC is involved in enhancing PHM technologies by: (a) integrating dynamic learning and complex system modeling techniques; (b) standardizing communications and architectures; (c) infusing networking capability and newly emerging smart technologies (smart-phones, tablets, etc.); and (d) ruggedizing designs for compliance with MIL and NEMA standards We are committed to advancing the state-of-the-art in PHM related areas such as structural health monitoring (SHM) and integrated vehicle health management (IVHM).
  • Smart Sensors
    For complex infrastructures where technology continuously evolves, the integration of configurable and standardized smart sensors with embedded data acquisition, flexible wired/wireless communications, failure awareness, self-identification (using Transducer Electronic Data Sheets), self-learning, and embedded intelligence provide a strategy to facilitate technological upgrades, increase system reliability, reduce operator work-load, and increase modularity, scalability, and extensibility. AGNC research efforts have produced a "Distributed Intelligent Health Monitoring" framework that consists of networks of smart sensors serving as distributed computational platforms that can host intelligent elements (processes) to improve monitoring operations. For our smart sensors, design for optimized size, weight, and power consumption (SWaP) is often a constraint, such as in aerospace applications. Standalone devices designed for energy harvesting constraints are also a current need.
  • Enterprise Architectures for Large-Scale-Data Processing
    Enterprise infrastructures consisting of smart devices (smart phones and tablets), the newest mobile and wireless technologies, networking capability, ruggedized hand-held devices designed for compliance with MIL standards, and information technologies provide a framework to integrate PHM systems within a layered architecture. Related technologies developed at AGNC include database manager and query system design, communication protocols, smart phone applications, cloud systems, data integration, large-scale data analysis and visualization, security mechanisms, hybrid networking schemes, and the use of smart sensor networks for near real-time health monitoring and automated data aggregation.
  • Real Time Processing
    Delivering high performance computational platforms (in standalone or networked implementations) that enable real time processing while meeting additional design constraints is of paramount importance for a variety of applications including efficient data acquisition, control, and high level processing. Distributed hardware and software architectures, the IEEE 1451 smart sensor standards, standalone systems, and custom hardware design (DSPs, FPGAs, and ultra-low-power microcontrollers) are baseline capabilities, that when combined with high end embedded processing devices provide the building blocks for advanced system realizations that meet the real time processing requirement.

Alliances and Collaborators

Children's National Medical Center

Georgetown University

Louisiana Tech University

Pennsylvania State University - Applied Research Laboratory

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The University of Texas at Arlington

University of Kansas

University of Southern California

Virginia Tech


 
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