Coordination Systems


The current focus in Coordination Systems is on optimal and reactive control of distributed devices where the dynamics matters, with application to autonomous transportation systems, astrometry, insulin delivery for the treatment of diabetes, as well as remote experimentation. The underlying academic disciplines are Optimal Control, Human-Machine Systems, as well as Cyber Physical Systems. The React Group is affiliated with the EPFL Transportation Center.

Challenge: How active devices (systems, agents) can react timely and adequately to changes in context and be coordinated using embedded sensors and actuators ?

Objective: Guarantee adaptability, efficiency and reliability of distributed active devices with respect to operation, interaction, and context.

Ongoing Projects

DESI: Developing a high accuracy, cost effective robot-positioners system for cosmology spectroscopic surveys (NSF)

Denis Gillet and Laleh Makarem, in collaboration with Jean-Paul Kneib (Laboratory of Astrophysics) and Hannes Bleuler (LSRO)

Keywords: Astrometry, Collision-free positioning

The next generation of large-scale spectroscopic survey experiments such as DESI, will use thousands of fiber positioners packed at a focal plane. In order to maximize the observing time, the end-effectors of all positioners handling the fibers need to be actuated in parallel from the previous to the next target coordinates. Independent trajectory following are not feasible as the end-effectors share part of their operating space with their neighbors. In this project, we are investigating motion planning approaches based on a novel decentralized navigation function for collision-free coordination of fiber positioners.

Sensor Fusion, Tracking, and Collision Avoidance in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

ReactDenis Gillet, Steven Roelofsen; DISAL: Alcherio Martinoli, Sven Gowal, Benjamin Fankhauser

Keywords: Collision Avoidance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The overarching goal of this collaborative effort is to allow Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to fly autonomously while avoiding obstacles, including potentially collaborative aircrafts in their neighborhood. In this framework we are developing methods for merging information gathered using multiple exteroceptive sensing modalities (vision, radar, and TCAS with transponder systems), keeping track of flying obstacles using such merged information, and planning and execution of collision-free trajectories.

Hierarchical Traffic Coordination of Automated Guided Vehicles

Denis Gillet, Laleh Makarem, Alexandros Charalampidis, Hajir Roozbehani, Sylvain Rudaz

Keywords: Intelligent Transportation Systems, Autonomous Agents, Automated Guided Vehicles

Electric Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) operating on roads have a high potential for reducing CO2 emissions and traffic congestion in intermodality areas. However and despite years of research and development, actual deployment is still limited. In this project innovative solutions are investigated for overcoming limiting factors, especially those related to platooning, overtaking, crossing, and energy supply. Advanced maneuvering solutions relying on hierarchical control structures and dynamical optimization will lead to an increase in vehicle density and speed.

Past Projects

MicroCoGen: Micro Cogeneration with a Scroll Turbine coupled with a Pellet Burner (funded by the State of Vaud)

Denis Gillet and Laleh Makarem, in collaboration with Jürg Schiffmann (LAMD) and ENEFTECH

Keywords: Optimal Control, Co-generation, Green Energy

Micro-cogeneration of electrical and thermal energy has a high potential for the development of distributed production units as part of energy grids. In this collaborative project, The React Group is investigating optimal approaches to maximize the energy production through dynamic coordination of the underlying components (pellet burner, scroll turbine, heat exchanger, and storage).

Population-Based Modeling and Semi-Autonomous Insulin Delivery for the Treatment of Diabetes

Denis Gillet, Grégory François, Alain Bock

Keywords: Diabetes, Insulin Delivery, Modeling, Population-based Estimation, Stochastic Modeling, Optimal Control, Predictive Control

This project aims at developing a model-based control system to ease the treatment of patients with Type 1 diabetes. Different model types and parameters estimation strategies are considered and evaluated. The models account for meal types, physical activities, stress, as well as other patients’ conditions. These models are validated using clinical data. It is also envisioned to exploit the models for semi-autonomous insulin delivery with wearable optimal or predictive control devices.

6th sense

Denis Gillet, Christophe Salzmann, Damien Perritaz

Keywords: Quality of Perception; Wearable Systems; Augmented reality; Adaptation

The 6th sense project aims at investigating advanced context-aware and adaptive end-to-end technologies to develop next-generation wearable supervision systems for industrial plant operators. It is carried out in collaboration with the University of Fribourg and the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland. The 6th sense project is supported by the Hasler Foundation in the context of its man-machine interaction research program.


Denis Gillet, Philippe Müllhaupt, Yvan Michellod

Keywords: Exoplanets; Differential Delay Lines

The Automatic Control Laboratory and the Robotic Systems Laboratory colaborate with the Geneva Observatory in the framework of the PRIMA ESO project to develop a Differential Delay Line for the PRIMA/VLTI facility at ESO. The goal of this new instrument is to contribute to speed up the implementation of this astrometric facility with respect to ESO’s current plan and to enable an early start of high-precision astrometric observations for extra-solar planets detection.

Hierarchical Optimization of Solar Thermal Systems Using Online Weather Forecasts

Denis Gillet, Thierry Prud’homme

Keywords: Optimal Control, Hybrid Systems, Solar Thermal Systems, Hot Water Production, Heating Systems, Weather Forecasts

In this project, systems that use solar energy to provide the users with hot water are considered. An auxiliary heater is used when the solar energy is not able to meet the users’ requirements. The goal in this projects is to maximise the part of solar energy in final energy balances at the same time maximising the comfort. This is described by an optimal control problem and is solved using dynamic models of heat exchangers and the building. These models have been developed and the parameters have been identified on two pilot plants located at the Ecole d’ingenieurs d’Yverdon (EIVD). The one-day weather forecasts, provided on-line by the Swiss Meteorological Institute (SMI), are also used. Two systems are under investigation in this project. The first one is a solar domestic hot water system. The second one is called a combi-system, which provides the users with hot water in addition to heating the building.