Intelligent Motion Video Guidance for Small Unmanned Air System Ground Target Tracking and Surveillance

Seminar by Dr. John Valasek in ARC 100

Abstract: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are gaining increased use for a variety of defense and civilian roles, and are predicted to participate more as effective actors in future surveillance and reconnaissance work. To efficiently and accurately collect intelligence data many current UAS require supervision from a team of two to four operators.  Operating a Small UAS with a non-gimbaled or fixed camera increases operator workload since the entire vehicle must be steered to visually track targets.  This presentation details the implementation and flight testing of a machine learning algorithm for the autonomous tracking of ground targets by UAS with a non-gimbaled or fixed camera that offers the potential to reduce operator workload and the number of operators. The Reinforcement Learning agent uses the Q-Learning algorithm and is trained offline in a simulation environment and learns different control policies to successfully track targets based upon target trajectory types, and crosswinds. Performance of the system is demonstrated with flight results for stationary and randomly moving targets, in addition to tracking randomly moving targets in unstructured environments.

The presentation will be held in ARC 100 and simulcast on Scott Lab E525.

BIO: Dr. John Valasek is Director, Vehicle Systems & Control Laboratory, Thaman Professor of Undergraduate Teaching Excellence, Professor of Aerospace Engineering, and member of the Honors Faculty at Texas A&M University. He earned the B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and the M.S. degree with honors and the Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas. His research is currently focused on bridging the gap between traditional computer science topics and aerospace engineering topics, and has been funded by AFOSR, AFRL, ONR, NSF, NASA, FAA, and industry. John is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and Senior Member of IEEE.  He is currently a member of the AIAA Unmanned Systems Technical Program Committee and the AIAA Intelligent Systems Technical Committee and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics.