Professor & Director of the Institute for Aerospace Studies
J. Armand Bombardier Foundation Chair
Spacecraft Dynamics and Control Lab
Email: damaren (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Toronto
- M.A.Sc. – University of Toronto
- B.A.Sc. – University of Toronto
Research Overview: Spacecraft Dynamics/Control and Microsatellites
Professor Chris Damaren obtained his doctorate at UTIAS in 1990 in the area of control systems for flexible spacecraft. In the 1990s most of his research concentrated on control system design for large structurally flexible robot manipulator systems such as the Space Station robotic systems developed by Canada. Most of this work was performed at Royal Roads Military College in Victoria, BC and the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Since joining the faculty of UTIAS in 1999, his research group has been involved in the dynamics and control of spacecraft including the orbital, attitude, and structural motions of these systems.
Previously completed research theses have included topics such as nonlinear filtering for spacecraft attitude determination, direct methods for low thrust optimization of interplanetary transfers, control of a flexible beam using a tip-mounted control moment gyro, control strategies for stable orbits around Phobos, position accommodation and compliance control for robotic excavation, and optimization of strictly positive real controllers for large flexible space structures.
A current research thrust is the development of control systems for formation flying spacecraft. The goal here is to control the relative motion between multiple spacecraft. Our research group has examined many aspects of the control problem including the development of suitable reference trajectories, optimal maneuvers for transitioning between different formation types, and the design of feedback controllers and state estimation methods. Current research focuses on combining impulsive control via thrusters with the Lorentz force produced by the geomagnetic field acting on spacecraft charge.
Another major research area centres on the use of the Earth’s magnetic field and the torques it produces on current loops to provide control torques for spacecraft attitude control. This is fundamentally a time-varying problem because the field changes as the spacecraft moves around in its orbit. Our group has developed special methods for developing stabilizing feedback controllers which control the currents in the loops on board the spacecraft and hence the torques that are experienced. This work has been recently extended to attitude control for structurally flexible spacecraft.
More fundamental research has included the development of robust controllers for (possibly) nonlinear systems using two celebrated results in feedback control theory: the passivity theorem and small gain theorem. The idea is to use the stability properties predicted by the latter theorem to deal with systems which have passive characteristics at low frequency but exhibit passivity violations at high frequency. Applications included flexible space structures with collocated sensors and actuators. Other work has applied nonlinear robust control theory for the control of aerospace problems such as formation flying and attitude control. The bottleneck here is the Hamilton-Jacobi equation. Special algorithms have been developed for constructing approximate solutions to it.
Recently our group has embarked on the development of control systems for solar sails: large gossamer structures that use solar radiation pressure acting on a thin sail as a source of propulsion. Current projects include the study of control-structure interaction when tip vanes are used for pointing the sail and trajectory optimization using numerical approaches to optimal control theory.
Professor & Associate Director - Research
Flow Control and Experimental Turbulence Lab
Email: lavoie (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Newcastle
- M.Sc. – Queen’s University
- B.Sc. – Queen’s University
Research Overview: Flow Control and Experimental Turbulence
Prof. Lavoie’s research interests are in the fields of modern flow control and turbulence, primarily from an experimental perspective. He is particularly concerned with the study of transitional and turbulent flows, as well as the flow structures and instabilities associated with these phenomena. The focus of the FCET group is to investigate the fundamental dynamics of attached and separated shear layers, and how these can be manipulated to improve flow characteristics with respect to specific goals, such as skin-friction drag reduction and mitigating noise emissions. The overarching aim is to develop novel flow control strategies, based on modern approaches, and the instrumentation and tools required to implement passive or active control techniques in an experimental framework and real life applications, such as on the surface of an aircraft. The motivation at the core of this research is the reduction of greenhouse gas emission in commercial transport industries, in particular aviation, through improved fluid system efficiency.
One of the current projects is part of an ongoing international research effort, involving researchers from the US and the UK, aimed at addressing fundamental issues pertinent to the delay of boundary layer transition from laminar to turbulent state via model-based feedback control. This work, which is supported in part by Bombardier Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney Canada, has further significance for the implementation of active control of turbulent boundary layers. For this project, a model-based closed-loop control was developed and implemented to negate the transient growth instabilities, known to trigger early transition to turbulence, in a Blasius boundary layer. Recent tests in the FCET state of the art low-speed wind tunnel have demonstrated reduction of over 90% of the targeted disturbance energy.
Dielectric-barrier-discharge plasma actuators are being developed and utilized for the aforementioned flow control problem. In the context of the transition control problem, the electro-mechanical coupling provided by the plasma actuator is used to negate transient growth due to surface roughness, thus preventing transition. Plasma actuators are also used for the control of separated shear layers, such as those found in the wake of a landing gear or blunt trailing edge. The utilization of these actuators is also supplemented by the study of issues relating to the practical implementation of these devices in industry.
Finally, experimental investigations are presently underway to develop flow state estimators and low-order models for separation control. Estimators are essential tools in modern flow control to allow state estimation of the flow dynamics based on limited sensing. In addition, low-order models enable the implementation of robust control strategies with realistically feasible computational requirements, all of which supports the overarching objectives aimed at the practical implementation of flow control in industrial applications.
Associate Professor & Associate Director - Graduate Studies
Advanced Aerospace Structures Lab
Email: csteeves (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – Cambridge University
- B.A.Sc. – University of British Columbia
- B.A. – University of Toronto
Research Overview: Advanced Aerospace Structures
The UTIAS Advanced Aerospace Structures Group, led by Prof Craig Steeves, performs research aimed at enhancing aircraft and spacecraft performance by combining complex structural and functional elements in an optimal configuration. Fibre composite materials are key components of this research, because it is possible to exploit the geometric complexity inherent in composites to achieve additional functional capabilities. For example, composites can be structured to be strong, stiff and light, and to have desirable vibrational characteristics. This depends both upon accurate models of the mechanical behaviour of arbitrarily configured composites and upon an ability to choose optimal designs within a very large design space. Modeling and optimal design of complex structured systems are the two interconnected foci of the research group.
Current work is concentrated on complex composite structures and on hybrid nanocrystalline microtrusses. Two specific types of composite structure are under investigation. The first is composite plates with locally variable fibre direction. By varying the fibre direction throughout a structure, it is possible to design additional functional properties into the system, such as novel vibration characteristics, while retaining high strength. Another complex composite structure is the truss-core sandwich, which is a light, stiff beam consisting of two composite face sheets separated by a truss-like composite core. These, because of the geometric complexity of the core truss, enable very precise tailoring of certain properties, such as acoustic transmission behaviour.
Hybrid nanocrystalline microtrusses are fabricated by making polymer truss preforms through a rapid-protoyping process, then coating the preforms with high-performance nanocrystalline metal. This produces a very light, strong structure which can be tailored at four length scales, offering a designer wide latitude for optimisation. Typically these have been configured as truss-like sandwich structures. While microtrusses were the initial focus of this research, the concept of using rapid prototyped polymers coated with nanocrystalline metals is relevant to a very braod range of aerospace structures and components. Further fundamental research is ongoing to determine the behaviour of a variety of hybrid metal-polymer structures.
Other work includes research on lattices, which are truss-like structures consisting of repeating unit cells. By using two or more materials and selecting the correct geometry, lattices can be designed to have additional useful properties. For example, by combining two materials with different coefficients of thermal expansion, a lattice with zero effective thermal expansion can be created. These lattices can be used in thermal protection systems or as stable surfaces of mirrors for space-based telescopes. Additional research on lattice materials is to investigate wave propagation through three-dimensional lattices, with such lattices to be used as vibration isolators for attachments between aircraft engines and wings.
The Multifunctional Structures Lab contains essential experimental equipment to carry out this research. Central is a 100 kN servohydraulic load frame with a variety of loading rigs that enable mechanical tests on a wide range of specimens and materials. The load frame is also equipped with an environmental chamber for high-temperature testing. A lab-scale gas gun complements this equipment for high strain rate testing. Data acquisition is usually through non-contact methods, such as digital image correlation and laser extensometry. Fabrication facilities include a high-precision polymer rapid prototyper and a wet lay-up composites bench. Through a close collaboration with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, we also have access to a nanocrystalline electrodeposition facility, as well as a state-of-the-art electron microscopy suite, which is equipped with an in situ testing rig for extremely small-scale experiments.
We are always looking for talented and enthusiastic graduate students wanting to join our group. Please e-mail Prof Steeves if you would like more information.
Prof Steeves has both a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Trinity College, University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering from the University of British Columbia. He received his Doctor of Philosophy in 2002 from the Cambridge University Engineering Department, studying composite mechanics and minimum-weight design of composite structures in Prof Norman Fleck’s Micromechanics Group. Subsequently Prof Steeves joined the Princeton University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering with Prof Richard Miles on a project examining the use of multifunctional sandwich structures in the context of magnetohydrodynamic power generation on reentering space vehicles. Finally, Prof Steeves worked with Prof Tony Evans at the Materials Department of the University of California, Santa Barbara on topics related to materials and structures enabling airbreathing hypersonic flight before moving to UTIAS in 2009.
Professor & Tier II Canada Research Chair in Autonomous Space Robotics
Autonomous Space Robotics Lab
Email: barfoot (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Toronto
- B.A.Sc. – University of Toronto
Awards and Honors:
- Tier II Canada Research Chair in Autonomous Space Robotics
Research Overview: Autonomous Space Robotics
Prof. Tim Barfoot is an Associate Professor and the Principle Investigator of the Autonomous Space Robotics Lab (ASRL) at UTIAS. He began his position in May 2007, after spending four years at MDA Space Missions, where he developed autonomous-vehicle navigation technologies for both space and terrestrial applications. Prof. Barfoot holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Autonomous Space Robotics, is an Ontario Early Researcher Award holder, and a Professional Engineer (Ontario).
The purpose of Prof. Barfoot’s research program is to enable scientific exploration by creating advanced autonomy for space robotics. Currently, planetary exploration is the primary focus of his work, particularly aspects of estimation and control for planetary rovers. There are currently four research threads at ASRL: (i) localization and mapping, (ii) path planning and path tracking, (iii) novel robotic concepts, and (iv) field testing.
The Localization and Mapping thread examines how to determine where a vehicle is on a planetary surface (either globally or locally) and how to build maps of the environment. These tasks are difficult due to the lack of a Global Positioning System equivalent beyond Earth. For short-range traverses, visual odometry techniques are being developed, which automatically identify and track natural landmarks to infer robot motion using visual sensors such as stereo cameras. For local worksite operations, a set of techniques to build a three-dimensional map using a laser rangefinder is underway. And, for long-range traverses, global localization techniques are being developed including celestial and orbital-image-based navigation.
The Path Planning and Path Tracking thread examines how to find safe passage for a vehicle through outdoor, unstructured, three-dimensional terrain. This can be done by assessing terrain using sensors onboard a robot and then planning to avoid hazards. However, a major challenge in this area is how best to use the limited computational resources available on a rover. A novel concept called a Network of Reusable Paths is under investigation, which allows a robot to explore and establish a network of safe paths, which can be used to revisit locations reliably. This concept builds on the standard visual odometry pipeline and can be thought of as a physical embodiment of a Rapidly-Exploring Random Tree path planner.
The Novel Robotic Concepts thread looks beyond the nominal scenario of having a single wheeled robot carry out planetary exploration. It seeks to develop robotic architectures that simplify the usual approach described in the other research threads. One possibility is to use a team of robots, which could simplify the localization problem by using one another as landmarks. Another is to have a large beach-ball rover blown along by the strong Martian winds, requiring no motors and little in the way of complex sensing or algorithms. Most recently, a tethered cliff-crawling robot concept is under investigation.
Finally, the philosophy of ASRL is that robotics techniques should be proven through realistic field trials. With support from the Canadian Space Agency’s analogue program, Dr. Barfoot carried out preliminary robotic explorations of the Haughton Crater on Devon Island in the High Arctic, in the summers of 2008 and 2009. Additional field tests have occurred in the Sudbury (Ontario) and Mistastin Lake (Labrador) Impact Craters as well as the Mars Emulation Terrain at the CSA in Montreal.
Propulsion and Energy Conversion Lab
Email: schaudhuri (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Connecticut
- B.E. – Jadavpur University
Research Overview: Propulsion and Energy Conversion
Welcome to the Propulsion and Energy Conversion Laboratories at UTIAS. Here we investigate, discover and engineer different phenomena pertaining to turbulent reacting flows involved in aerospace propulsion and energy conversion. Turbulent reacting flows, in particular turbulent combustion is responsible for most aircraft propulsion, significant fraction of electricity generation and wildfire propagation in our planet. It also causes astrophysical explosions that disseminate heavy elements like iron throughout the universe thereby ensuring advanced life form and advancement of their civilization. Climate change is another manifestation of turbulent reacting flow dynamics. Turbulent reacting flows thus involves length scales from few angstroms where bonds break to make reactions happen, to few centimeter - the size of the largest flow structures in a gas turbine combustor, to few tens of thousands of kilometers – the size of a Type Ia Supernova. It is this range of scales combined with intersection of multiple branches of science finding home in the ultimate engineering marvel – aircraft engines; that makes turbulent reacting flows a subject of great complexity and engineering relevance where even small but solid progress can provide quantum leaps in solving some of the greatest challenges in energy and environment. There is a pressing need to understand turbulent reacting flows to improve the efficiencies of aero-propulsion engines and mitigate their harmful emissions. Scientific understanding and engineering turbulent reacting flows to achieve breakthroughs for next generation aircraft engines is thus the primary objective of the Propulsion and Energy Conversion Laboratories at UTIAS.
At the Propulsion and Energy Conversion Labs, we adopt a two-pronged research approach.
- Explore the unknown – solve the unsolved phenomena in turbulent reacting flows. These could be answering questions such as how does engine noise transition to instability inside a gas turbine engine or how does a turbulent flame transition to an explosion? How to stabilize flames in supersonic flows? How does turbulence influence transport and overall reaction rates to alter properties of supercritical fuels in small channel flows? We set out to address these questions by doing experiments and performing diagnostics with lasers and/or numerical simulations with supercomputers bolstered with theoretical insights in laboratory scale experiments: physical or numerical.
- Translation to industry - convert the above discoveries into results useful for the industry. This is achieved by constructing industrial scale facilities and performing careful experiments in conditions that emulate the actual engine operating conditions.
Please visit the website of Propulsion and Energy Conversion Laboratories for further details. We are always looking for bright and highly motivated students, who would like to make outstanding contributions in propulsion and turbulent reacting flows that would result in high quality doctoral theses. Applications from potential post-doctoral scholars with motivation for discovery are also welcome.
Propulsion and Energy Conversion Laboratories is directed by Prof. Swetaprovo Chaudhuri.
Prof. Chaudhuri earned his PhD in Energy and Thermal Sciences from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Connecticut in 2010 after his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Jadavpur University in 2006. He was a research staff at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University from 2010-2013. He worked at the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, as an Assistant Professor from 2013-18 and as an Associate Professor 2018-19. In 2019 he moved to UTIAS as a tenured Associate Professor. Prof. Chaudhuri has authored/co-authored over hundred articles in journals, conferences and books, has won many awards and is a leading expert in turbulent reacting flows and propulsion.
Professor at UTIAS
Space Robotics Lab
Email: gabriele.deleuterio (at) utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Toronto
- M.A.Sc – University of Toronto
- B.A.Sc. – University of Toronto
Research Overview: Space Robotics
The Moon has not been disturbed by human footprints since 1972. But as we gain a purchase on the new century, we are preparing a return to Earth’s closest celestial neighbor. This time, however, we plan on staying.
Preparation for a permanent lunar habitat will require robotic missions in advance of humans. Robotics have played a key role in space exploration, from the success of Canadarm on the Space Shuttle to Sojourner which made the first tracks on Mars. They will precede us to the planets and planetoids and will, in a very literal sense, pave the way for our return to the Moon. Robots are currently our surrogate explorers but they will eventually become our companions as we begin to take steps farther into the Solar System. To this end, the UTIAS Space Robotics Group has been working on the concept of network robotics (or collective robotics or group robotics as it is also known); that is, a “swarm” of robots working cooperatively to accomplish a common goal or a form of consensus. Such an approach is necessitated by planetary network science where multiple and distributed measurements have to be made simultaneously as in conducting atmospheric or seismology studies. Even geological exploration and the search for extraterrestrial life will benefit from the network approach. Moreover, robot colonies will be required for resource utilization in situ and to construct habitats on alien soil. But the robots must be robust, autonomous and “intelligent.” Herein lies the great challenge not just for space robotics but robotics in general. It is our Group’s mission to foster robotic life.
The Space Robotics Group, led by Professor Gabriele D’Eleuterio, has a long history in robotics research for the Canadian space program. Our work dates back to developing general simulation dynamics techniques that were used in the design and development of Canadarm2 for the International Space Station. At present, our Group is participating in the development of a multirobot system for autonomous lunar excavation in support of the planned return to the Moon.
In keeping with its mission, the Group’s research is motivated by biology. The notion of “intelligent robotics” is very much in vogue these days. However, our interpretation of “intelligence” in fact derives from observations and knowledge of the natural world. Our robotic control strategies are founded on neural network architectures that mimic the brain. But, ultimately, what has led to the emergence of intelligent creatures in our world has been the natural process of evolution. Accordingly, we are also working with and developing new algorithms of artificial evolution. Our Group is also seeking to understand better the dynamics of evolution and, in this way, not only do we hope these techniques to have a greater impact on the artificial world of robotics but perhaps we can also give back to the field of biology.
As one of our main interests is multiagent systems, we are also turning our attention to flying robots. We have recently begun an effort to build flying robotic “insects.” But these too are not without potential space application as small flying robots have been proposed for the exploration of Mars. In the end, we are constantly turning to the natural world for inspiration.
Associate Professor - Teaching Stream & Teaching Assistant Coordinator
Fusion Energy: Plasma Materials Interactions Lab
Email: jwdavis (at) starfire.utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Toronto
- M.A.Sc – University of Toronto
- B.A.Sc. – University of Toronto
Research Overview: Fusion Energy: Plasma Materials Interactions
The fuel in fusion reactors is a mixture of deuterium and tritium – the heavy isotopes of hydrogen. Fusion reactions occur at about 100 million degrees. At this temperature the fuel is in the plasma state. While magnetic fields confine the hot core plasma to the centre of the reactor vessel, the cooler edge plasma will contact the reactor walls, resulting in physical and chemical phenomena with potential engineering implications. Research at UTIAS focuses on the study of plasma-materials interactions with ITER-specific materials, namely, carbon, tungsten and beryllium. Current research includes studies of (i) materials erosion, in particular, chemical erosion and high temperature erosion processes, (ii) diffusion, trapping. and retention of hydrogen isotopes in carbon, tungsten, and mixed materials, (iii) the recovery of deuterium (in the case of ITER it will be deuterium and tritium) from layers of D-containing deposits formed in tokamaks. Using our dual-beam ion accelerator, we also study surface modification and composition dynamics during simultaneous irradiation of surfaces by two plasma species, e.g., D and He, D and C, D and O, where D is the fuel and He, C and O are impurities in the plasma.
One of the main technological challenges associated with fusion reactor R&D is the development of new materials capable of existing in the fusion plasma environment. We study plasma-materials-interaction processes using plasma simulation facilities where candidate reactor materials are tested under controlled conditions. These facilities consist of ultrahigh vacuum systems and plasma particle beams, including sub-eV hydrogen, electrons, and energetic hydrogen and other ions. Diagnostics include quadrupole mass spectrometers, residual gas analyzers and a laser-thermal-desorption apparatus for hydrogen retention measurements. We also have access to surface analysis facilities elsewhere at the University of Toronto.
Experimental Fluid Dynamics Lab
Email: ekmekci (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – Lehigh University
- M.S. – Lehigh University
- B.S. – Istanbul Technical University
Research Overview: Fusion Energy: Experimental Fluid Dynamics
Dr. Alis Ekmekci leads the experimental fluids lab at UTIAS, where she conducts research in flow control, flow-induced noise and vibration, flow-structure interactions, low-Reynolds-number aerodynamics, unsteady separated flows, and vortex dynamics. The main facilities available in this lab include: a re-circulating water channel, a Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) system, Volumetric 3-Component Velocimetry (V3V) system, hydrogen bubble and dye visualization systems, hot film anemometers, pressure transducers, several motorized linear and rotary traverse systems, and motion control and DAQ systems. This infrastructure leads to a unique capability to conduct several experimental projects in fluid mechanics research. Recent and ongoing projects carried out by her group are as follows:
Passive control of flow past slender structures: This project investigates manipulation of flow past slender structures through various patterns of surface protrusions. We explore the conditions that particularly attain attenuation or enhancement in vortex shedding. In turn, insight into the attenuation aids the development of methods for suppressing vortex-induced structural vibrations, while the enhancement unveils the conditions that exacerbates vibrations for energy harvesting.
Flow structure around landing gear models: This is a collaborative project with Bombardier. Landing gears are known to be a major source of aircraft noise. This noise mainly results from the fluctuating flow structure. Hence, we explore the unsteady flow topology around landing gear models in relation to the components of the model. Knowledge of this, in turn, can reveal the sources of noise and aid the design of next-generation quieter aircraft.
Flow-induced cavity resonance and its control: This project investigates the resonant coupling phenomena in flow past cavity configurations. Flow-induced cavity resonance is encountered, for example, in the cavities located on the fuselage of an aircraft, the hull of marine vessel, and the ballast tank of a submarine, to name a few.
Junction flows, horseshoe vortex dynamics: Horseshoe vortices form in many real scenarios, such as at wing-body junctions in airplanes, turbine blade-hub junctions, cooling flow past computer chips. They often have large effects on skin friction, noise and the local heat transfer in junction regions. This project investigates how the oncoming boundary layer and the geometry of the wing-body affect unsteady dynamics of horseshoe vortices.
Wake behind a pair of bluff bodies: Understanding of the flow past bundled cylindrical bodies is of great significance for the control of flow-induced vibrations in heat exchanger tubes, adjacent tall buildings, and piles of offshore platforms. In this project, flow past two cylinders in tandem and side-by-side arrangements are investigated. Both stationary and forced oscillating cylinders are tested.
Unsteady vortex dynamics in delta wings: Delta wings are employed in a variety of aerospace vehicles, such as in micro air vehicles and unmanned combat air vehicles. This project explores the unsteady aspects of flow over non-slender delta wings under stationary and manoeuvring conditions.
Interfacing of experimental investigations with numerical simulations: We welcome collaborative research with groups conducting numerical simulations. Our experimental work can easily interface the work of numerical simulations in validation efforts.
Associate Professor - Teaching Stream & Aero-Design Laboratories Coordinator
Aerospace Mechatronics Lab
Email: emami (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Toronto
- M.Sc. – Sharif University of Technology
- B.Sc. – Sharif University of Technology
Research Overview: Fusion Energy: Aerospace Mechatronics
The goal of the Aerospace Mechatronics research thrust is to develop systematic frameworks and modular architectures for the concurrent, detail-level engineering of aerospace systems, from conception to configuration and integration, to realization and implementation.
Some of the group’s current research activities include:
- Holistic Mechatronics: a new concurrent design methodology is developed through introducing the universal notion of satisfaction and expressing the holistic behaviour of multidisciplinary systems using the concept of energy. The application of the methodology to an industrial robot manipulator has shown promising results.
- Reconfigurable Mechatronics: the research focuses on the development of concurrent design frameworks for autonomously reconfigurable mechatronic systems. The merits of the research are shown through its applications to reconfigurable robotic rovers as well as a newly-designed 18 d.o.f. autonomously reconfigurable serial manipulator.
- Mechatronics by Analogy: the research postulates that by establishing a similarity relation between a complex system and a number of simpler systems it is possible to design the former using the analysis and synthesis means developed for the simpler systems. The methodology is successfully applied to the design of a robotic leg.
- Heterogeneous Robotic Team: The new approach of Control ad Libitum is introduced for developing control architectures that allow a team of non-uniform (both software and hardware) rover platforms to perform collectively, while adapting to changing hardware and tasks in real-time without the intervention of a central server or operator.
- Robotics Social Learning: The research studies interactions between collective, cooperative and collaborative behaviours of a robotic team, and attempts to develop hybrid multi-agent learning algorithms for enhancing such social behaviours concurrently.
- Free-base Robot Manipulation: the research aims at reformulating the kinematic and dynamic equations of free-base manipulators, based on symplectic geometry, in order to obtain suitable laws for the concurrent base-manipulator motion control. The goal is to develop a new generation of free-flying manipulators that can be released from the base station for reaching larger workspaces.
- Aerospace Remote Experimentation: the research attempts to establish a transformative vision of remotely accessible aerospace laboratories for both pedagogical and research purposes. The goal is to enable students and researchers to reliably operate remote devices (such as manipulators) in space and also conduct from Earth future experiments on the moon.
- Robotic Hardware-in-the-loop Simulation: a practical framework for the concurrent engineering of reconfigurable robot manipulators is constructed through the development of a hardware-in-the-loop design and simulation platform.
- Mechatronics Pedagogy: the research attempts to define a hybrid framework for teaching mechatronics that synergistically utilizes various learning theories. The premise is that teaching mechatronics requires both direct instruction and learner-controlled knowledge construction. One key outcome of the research is the invention of an affordable, comprehensive, and transparent Personal Mechatronics Laboratory toolkit for students and researchers.
Associate Professor & Engineering Science Aerospace Option Chair
Vehicle Simulation Lab
Email: prgrant (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Toronto
- M.A.Sc. – University of Toronto
- B.A.Sc. – University of Manitoba
Research Overview: Vehicle Simulation
Professor Grant’s research areas include flight dynamics, flight simulation, the virtual flight test facility, and human control of vehicles. His current research is focused on the development of ground-based simulators for upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT), the impact of structural flexibility on aircraft handling qualities and modeling of human motion perception and control. Professor Grant has also been actively involved in driving simulation research and has written motion drive software for the US National Advanced Driving simulator, as well as for Toyota’s state-of-the-art dynamic driving simulator.
Aircraft safety is the primary motivation for Professor Grant’s research. First, a large percentage of commercial aircraft accidents are triggered by unexpected aircraft upsets. Due to the fidelity limitations of current flight simulators and safety concerns in real aircraft, pilots have very little training on how to successfully recover from upset conditions. The current upset recovery project is studying ways to improve simulators such that meaningful training can take place. Second, environmental concerns are leading to new aircraft designs that are likely to have: (i) increased structural flexibility compared to previous designs, (ii) unconventional dynamic behavior. The aircraft flexibility project is aimed at understanding how aircraft flexibility will affect the pilot’s ability to precisely and safely control the aircraft. Professor Grant’s research group is also investigating the handling qualities of unconventional aircraft designs such as the blended-wing body (BWB). Although closed-loop control can modify the BWB dynamic response such that it is similar to a conventional aircraft, it is still important to understand how pilots will interact with the bare-airframe dynamic response of these new aircraft.
The UTIAS Flight Research Simulator is one of a few university owned motion-based flight simulators in the world. It allows the researchers at UTIAS to experimentally validate improvements in simulator fidelity and it can act as a surrogate for new aircraft designs, thereby allowing researchers to measure human control behavior/performance while flying simulations of these new designs in a virtual environment. In addition, the simulator enables the group’s ongoing investigation into a basic understanding of human motion perception and control.
Recently completed projects include the following: An extended B747 flight model that realistically predicts the behavior of the aircraft at and beyond stall was developed and tested. The model includes reduced lateral and directional stability, reduced effectiveness of controls and asymmetric roll-off beyond stall. A new adaptive motion drive algorithm was also developed for UPRT that can produce realistic motion cues during the extreme motions encountered during upsets. A set of experiments using this new algorithm determined that good roll cueing leads to improved pilot control but reduced subjective fidelity due to the increased lateral side force errors. Therefore a careful trade-off between the two motions is required for UPRT. A recent human motion perception study found that translational motion perception tends to follow Weber’s law whereby the just-noticeable-difference (JND) is linearly related to the size of the base stimulus. These results are being used to develop Bayesian models of human motion perception.
Professor at UTIAS
Computational Fluid Dynamics and Propulsion Lab
Email: groth (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Toronto
- M.A.Sc. – University of Toronto
- B.A.Sc. – University of British Columbia
Awards and Honors
- Past President, current Member of the Board of Directors of the Computational Fluid Dynamics Society of Canada
- Member of the Scientific Committee for the International Conference on Computational Fluid Dynamics
Research Overview: Computational Fluid Dynamics and Propulsion
Prof. Clinton Groth is a theoretical and computational fluid dynamicist with expertise in finite-volume schemes for compressible non-reacting and reacting flows and in the development of parallel adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) methods. He also has expertise in the computation of reactive, non-equilibrium, rarefied, and magnetized flows, and the development of generalized transport models and solution methods following from kinetic theory. His current research focuses primarily on the development of reliable and robust, parallel, high-order, AMR, finite-volume methods mesh for the solution of multi-scale, physically-complex flows and the application of these techniques to numerical combustion modelling, including research on large-eddy simulation (LES) techniques for turbulent premixed, non-premixed, and partially premixed combusting flows, as well as fundamental studies of laminar flames for bio-based fuels under high-pressure gas-turbine-like conditions. Industrial research partners include Rolls-Royce Canada and Pratt & Whitney Canada, two leading manufacturers of gas turbine engines for aviation and power generation applications. He is the author and co-author of nearly fifty journal articles and nearly 120 conference papers, has been involved in organizing both national and international conferences, is currently a member of the Scientific Committee for the International Conference on Computational Fluid Dynamics and University of Toronto SciNet Technical Advisory Committee, and is a past president and member of the Board of Directors of the Computational Fluid Dynamics Society of Canada.
The current and planned research activity of Prof. Groth’s CFD and Propulsion group includes: (i) development of AMR and embedded mesh strategies for treatment of complex and possibly moving geometries and interfaces using hybrid multi-block meshes consisting of both body-fitted structured and more generally unstructured grid blocks; (ii) development of high-order finite-volume spatial discretization procedures on structure and unstructured mesh for improved solution accuracy; (iii) development of fully anisotropic mesh refinement techniques with refinement criteria based on dual-weighted reconstruction and residual error estimates; (iv) design of efficient and scalable parallel implementations with two-levels of parallelism – coarse-grain parallelization via domain decomposition and fine-grain parallelization – for more effective use of future petascale and exascale high-performance computing hardware; and (v) and development of improved parallel implicit time-marching schemes based on Newton-Krylov-Schwarz (NKS) approaches. Targeted applications of the new advanced computational tools would include the prediction of high-pressure combustion and pollutant emissions, including soot, for conventional and bio-based fuels, LES of thermo-acoustical phenomena in turbulent premixed flames, and the prediction of non-equilibrium micro-channel and plasma flows.
Professor at UTIAS
Combustion and Propulsion Lab
Email: ogulder (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Manchester
- M.Sc. – Middle East Technical University
- B.Sc. – Middle East Technical University
Research Overview: Combustion and Propulsion
Dr. Gülder joined UTIAS in November 2001 and leads an experimental and computational research program in combustion and propulsion. Before coming to UTIAS, he worked at the National Research Council Canada as head of the Combustion Research Laboratory. His research has been in the field of turbulent combustion, premixed flame propagation, soot formation in combustion, development and use of experimental optical diagnostics in combustion systems, combustion in gas turbines and reciprocating engines, and alternative transportation fuels. He is the author and coauthor of more than 250 papers in these areas. He had served on the editorial boards of the journals Combustion and Flame, International Journal of Engine Research, International Journal of Thermal Sciences, and Atomization and Sprays. He served as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Combustion Institute between 2000 and 2012, and was the Chair of the Canadian Section of the Combustion Institute from 1991 to 2001. His current commitments of scientific and technical advisory nature include: Scientific Advisory Committee Member, biennial International Sooting Flame Workshops since 2011; Co-organizer of the biennial International Premixed Turbulent Flames Workshops since 2008.
A key element of many of modern society’s critical technologies, combustion accounts for approximately 85 percent of the world’s energy usage and is vital to our current way of life. Spacecraft and aircraft propulsion, electric power production, home heating, ground transportation, and materials processing all use combustion to convert chemical energy to thermal energy or propulsive force. Professor Gülder’s research aims to improve our understanding of this essential process and paving the way for more efficient and environmentally friendly combustion of both traditional and alternative fuels.
The Combustion and Propulsion group’s experimental facilities include several generic burners for laminar and turbulent flames, a high-pressure combustion chamber capable of 100 atm; a unique set up for jet fuel oxidative thermal stability research, and various optical and laser-based combustion and flow field diagnostics such as Rayleigh scattering, soot emission spectroscopy, laser-induced incandescence, two-line atomic fluorescence, particle image velocimetry. The group’s recent accomplishments include (a) revealing the flame front structure in turbulent combustion, and (b) pressure dependence of soot formation in gaseous flames.
Current research activities of the Combustion and Propulsion group focus on (a) fundamental combustion properties of biofuels for aviation and ground transportation; (b) soot and particulate formation in liquid and gaseous fuel flames at elevated pressures representative of gas turbines; (c) dynamics and structure of premixed and non-premixed turbulent flames; (d) structure of laminar diffusion flames; (d) thermal oxidative stability of conventional and alternative aviation fuels; (e) laser-induced incandescence technique for soot and particulate diagnostics. These experimental studies are complemented by high-fidelity numerical simulations in collaboration with CFD and Propulsion Group (Prof. Groth). Combustion and Propulsion Group have been collaborating with national and international groups in some of these subject areas.
Current funding of the Combustion and Propulsion Group comes from Rolls Royce Canada – CRIAQ; Biofuel Network; NSERC (Strategic, Discovery, and RTI); Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN); CFI; and Pratt and Whitney Canada.
Space & Terrestrial Autonomous Robotic Systems Lab
Email: jkelly (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Southern California
- M.S. – University of Southern California
- M.Sc. - University of Alberta
- B.Sc. – University of Alberta
Awards and Honours
Dean's Catalyst Professor (2018)
Connaught New Researcher Award (2017)
Science Leadership Program Fellow (2016)
Research Overview: Space & Terrestrial Autonomous Robotic Systems
Professor Kelly’s research is focussed on developing robust autonomous systems that are able to operate independently over long durations in challenging environments, for example, in space and on remote planetary surfaces. His team carries out research at the nexus of sensing, planning, and control, with an emphasis on the study of fundamental problems related to perception, representation, and understanding of the world. Prof. Kelly is also interested in ‘bringing space robotics down to Earth,’ by leveraging opportunities for technology transfer from space systems to terrestrial robots.
Prof. Kelly is currently Dean's Catalyst Professor at UTIAS; this early-career award is designed to promote and accelerate the contributions of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering's most promising junior academic staff. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, where he was an Annenberg Fellow and was supported in part by a PGS-D award from NSERC Canada. Before moving to UTIAS, he held a postdoctoral appointment in the Robust Robotics Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to graduate school, he was a Software Engineer in the Space Technologies division of the Canadian Space Agency.
The work in Kelly’s group is motivated by the desire to implement effective autonomy solutions across a broad spectrum of application domains. Specifically, the group seeks to build robots that are:
- pervasive — widely deployed in assistive roles across the spectrum of human activity (robots everywhere!),
- persistent — able to operate reliably and independently for long durations, on the order of days, weeks, or more, and
- perceptive — aware of their environment, and capable of acting intelligently when confronted with new situations and experiences.
Towards these goals, Kelly’s group designs algorithms for an array of sensing devices and robotic platforms. Examples of current research topics include: power-on-and-go sensor systems, energy-aware path planning for planetary rovers, and deep learning methods for reliable navigation under challenging conditions (e.g., extreme lighting and appearance change). The group has recently launched a major initiative in the area of collaborative mobile manipulation for dynamic, shared environments. Theoretical results are verified through rigorous experimental trials, to ensure that the group’s research can be successfully applied in the field.
Applications from talented and enthusiastic students are always welcome. Please visit the STARS Laboratory web site (http://starslab.ca/) for more information and consider joining us (http://www.starslab.ca/join-us/)!
Professor & Director of the Centre for Aerial Robotics Research and Education (CARRE)
Flight Systems and Control Lab
Email:liu (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Toronto
- M.A.Sc. – Beijing University
- B.A.Sc. – Shanghai University
Research Overview: Aircraft Flight Systems and Control
Dr. Hugh H.T. Liu is a full Professor at UTIAS and he currently serves as the Associate Director, Graduate Studies. Dr. Liu is an internationally leading researcher in the area of aircraft systems and control, and he leads the “Flight Systems and Control” (FSC) Research Laboratory. Dr. Liu has published over 100 technical papers in peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has received one patent (US and Canada) on his work on motion synchronization. He has significant research contributions in autonomous unmanned systems development, cooperative control, and integrated modeling and simulation. He also serves on editorial boards and technical committees of international professional societies. Before his academic appointment, Dr. Liu has several years’ industrial experience where he participated and led development projects of aircraft environmental control systems. Dr. Liu is a Fellow of CSME, Associate Fellow of AIAA, and an active member of IEEE, CASI.
The research interests of the “Flight Systems and Control Laboratory” at the UTIAS cover the following themes/areas: (1) systems modeling, simulation and control; (2) multi-vehicle systems estimation and control; and (3) autonomous unmanned vehicle systems (UVS) applications. The goal of our research is to bring state-of-art control and integration techniques to improve or optimize aircraft systems performance.
Our recent research projects include:
Systems Modeling, Simulation and Control
- Aeroservoelastic wing and active control¬
- Landing gear thermo-tribo-mechanical model development
- Aircraft systems simulation and integration
- Fail-safe flight and fault tolerant control
Multi-vehicle Systems Estimation and Control
- Vision-based surveillance and sensing using multi-UAVs
- Quadrotor UAV vision-based target tracking
- Motion synchronization formation control
- Cooperative multi-vehicle forest fire monitoring
Autonomous UVS Applications
- Autonomous localization and mapping
- Autonomous Soaring Surveillance
- Autonomous target interception for border patrol vehicles
Professor & Tier II Canada Research Chair in Computational Modeling and Design Optimization Under Uncertainty
Decision Analytics for Computational Engineering Lab
Email: pbn (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Southampton
- M.Tech. – IIT Bombay
- B.Tech. – IIT Bombay
Awards and Honors
- Tier II Canada Research Chair in Computational Modeling and Design Optimization Under Uncertainty
Research Overview: Decision Analytics for Computational Engineering Lab
Professor Prasanth Nair is the Tier II Canada Research Chair in Computational Modeling and Design Optimization Under Uncertainty and an Associate Professor at UTIAS. He received his Ph.D. (2000) from the University of Southampton, and his M.Tech. (1997) and B.Tech. (1995) degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. Prior to joining UTIAS in 2011, he was an academic in the School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton.
Prof. Nair’s research interests lie in three main areas: (i) computational modeling of deterministic and stochastic systems governed by partial differential equations, (ii) optimization algorithms for design, control and parameter estimation, and (iii) generalized function approximation problems. He is the co-author of a book on Aerospace Design (Computational Approaches for Aerospace Design, John-Wiley and Sons, 2005) and over 100 articles in referred journals, edited books and conference proceedings.
Prof. Nair heads the Computational Modeling and Design Optimization Under Uncertainty Group at UTIAS. The research activities of this group are driven by the vision that future computational modelling techniques must not only predict nominal response but also produce a certificate of response variability that rigorously accounts for all sources of uncertainty. Furthermore, this enhanced analysis capability must be highly efficient, parallelizable, and scalable to high-dimensional models. Theoretical and algorithmic advances in these directions are key to realizing the promise of computational models as reliable surrogates of reality as well as enabling robust design optimization of complex real-world systems.
Prof. Nair’s research group also works on various aspects of scientific computing, including the implementation of numerical algorithms on multiprocessor hardware and parallel function decomposition schemes for alleviating the curse of dimensionality encountered in high-dimensional function approximation and solution of parameterized operator equations. Ongoing research projects include:
- Numerical methods for stochastic partial differential equations;
- Numerical methods for constructing real-time emulators of high-dimensional engineering systems with applications to robust design optimization and uncertainty analysis;
- Bayesian methods and greedy algorithms for modelling spatio-temporal datasets and operator problems;
- Parsimonious design space parameterization strategies;
- Statistical shape modelling using noisy and sparse measurement data; and
- Computational methods for robust design of total hip and knee replacements and emulators for pre-clinical decision support.
- Ph.D. – ETH Zürich
- M.Sc. – Georgia Tech
- Dipl. Eng. – University of Stuttgart
Awards and Honors
- MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 (2017)
- Sloan Research Fellowship (2017)
- Ministry of Research, Innovation & Science Early Researcher Award (2017)
- Connaught New Researcher Award (2015)
- MIT Enabling Society Tech Competition First Prize (2015)
- Science Leadership Program Fellow (2014)
- Dimitris N. Chorafas Foundation Prize and ETH Medal (for outstanding PhD thesis, 2013)
Research Overview: Dynamic Systems
Welcome to the Dynamic Systems Lab at UTIAS! The group is led by Prof. Angela Schoellig.
We develop learning and adaptation capabilities for mobile robots to facilitate reliable, long-term robot applications. In particular, our research interests are centered around the challenges associated with robots – such as self-driving and self-flying vehicles – operating in increasingly unstructured, uncertain and changing environments, and over long periods of time. These situations challenge current robot designs, which rely on knowing the specifics of the environment and task ahead of time in order to operate safely and efficiently.
We address this problem by drawing ideas from controls, machine learning and optimization. We believe that the next generation of robot algorithms will combine a-priori information about the robot and its environment with data collected during operation. To this end, our contributions are two-fold:
1. we develop novel robot control and learning algorithms that enable single and multi-robot systems to operate safely and effectively in real-world environments, and
2. we work on novel robot applications– often in interdisciplinary teams and together with industrial partners – to enable technology transfer and to understand critical technology gaps.
This produces results with both scientific and practical impact. Ultimately, we aim to build robots that can effectively interact with the physical world and seamlessly integrate into our personal and work environments.
Toronto Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (TRAILab)
Email: stevenw (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- D. – Stanford University
- S. – Stanford University
- A.Sc. – Queen's University
Research Overview: Toronto Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (TRAILab)
Prof. Steven Waslander is a leading authority on autonomous aerial and ground vehicles, including multirotor drones and autonomous driving vehicles. Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) and multi-vehicle systems. He received his B.Sc.E.in 1998 from Queen’s University, his M.S. in 2002 and his Ph.D. in 2007, both from Stanford University in Aeronautics and Astronautics, where as a graduate student he created the Stanford Testbed of Autonomous Rotorcraft for Multi-Agent Control (STARMAC), the world’s most capable outdoor multi-vehicle quadrotor platform at the time. He was a Control Systems Analyst for Pratt & Whitney Canada from 1998 to 2001. He was recruited to Waterloo from Stanford in 2008, where he founded and directs the Waterloo Autonomous Vehicle Laboratory (WAVELab), extending the state of the art in autonomous drones and autonomous driving through advances in localization and mapping, object detection and tracking, integrated planning and control methods and multi-robot coordination. In 2018, he joined the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), and founded the Toronto Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (TRAILab).
Prof. Waslander’s innovations were recognized by the Ontario Centres of Excellence Mind to Market award for the best Industry/Academia collaboration (2012, with Aeryon Labs), best paper and best poster awards at the Computer and Robot Vision Conference (2018), and through two Outstanding Performance Awards, and two Distinguished Performance Awards while at the University of Waterloo. His work on autonomous vehicles has resulted in the Autonomoose, the first autonomous vehicle created at a Canadian University to drive on public roads. His insights into autonomous driving have been featured in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, the Rick Mercer Report, and on national CBC Radio. He is Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems, has served as the General Chair for the International Autonomous Robot Racing Competition (IARRC 2012-15), as the program chair for the 13th and 14th Conference on Computer and Robot Vision (CRV 2016-17), and as the Competitions Chair for the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2017).
Prof. Waslander's current research focuses on two main areas: simultaneous localization and mapping with dynamic camera clusters, and perception for autonomous driving. Dynamic camera clusters are groups of cameras attached to robotic systems in which at least one of the cameras can move relative to the others, such as a gimballed camera common on multirotor drones, or an actuated camera on a mobile manipulator arm. These systems require dynamic calibration to identify an accurate transformation from each camera frame to a base vehicle frame, and so this work has led to minimal parameterizations that provide such transformations based on joint angles for the actuated mechanism. We are developing active vision techniques for both calibration of the dynamic camera cluster and for localization and mapping during operation. This work will enable robotic platforms to exploit their best sensors and reduce the overall sensor requirements by identifying regions of the environment that are most helpful to a given task and focusing sensor attention in those directions.
Perception for autonomous driving involves numerous challenging tasks, such as the identification, localization, tracking and prediction of static and dynamic objects in the environment, the construction of multi-faceted maps for route planning, local path planning and obstacle avoidance, and the localization and state estimation of ego motion. Our research in this area involves both classical and deep learning approaches, and is seeking new ways of extracting estimate uncertainty from deep networks to improve sensor fusion and provide a holistic perceptual representation in real-time on in-vehicle hardware. These efforts are aided by data collection and public road driving evaluations on the Autonomoose testbed, a fully capable autonomous vehicle developed at the University of Waterloo. The team’s emphasis is on robust methods that operate in all weather and lighting conditions and use multiple sources of information to improve both performance and fault tolerance.
Aerospace Computational Engineering Lab
Email: myano (at) utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- S.M. – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- B.S. – Georgia Institute of Technology
Research Overview: Aerospace Computational Engineering Lab
Professor Yano’s research focuses on the development of computational methods for problems in aerospace sciences and engineering. Specifically, his research interests lie in numerical methods, scientific computation, and numerical analysis for partial differential equations (PDEs) with applications in aerodynamics, continuum mechanics, acoustics, and transport.
The goal of Prof. Yano’s group is to improve the reliability and autonomy of numerical simulations. Here, reliability refers to the ability to estimate and control various sources of error in numerical predictions. Autonomy refers to the ability to complete the analysis with minimal user intervention.
Reliable and automated simulations play important roles in engineering design and analysis. A reliable solver accurately characterizes complex flow phenomena, in which user instincts may fail to identify relevant features. A reliable solver permits exploration of radically different designs, for which little prior knowledge exists. A reliable solver enables modern engineering challenges, such as robust optimization and real-time control. The group aims to provide reliable and automated computational tools that maximize their predictive potential and utility in understanding physical phenomena and ultimately making engineering decisions.
Much of the emphasis of the group is advanced numerical methods for PDEs. Example of current research topics include:
- error estimation and adaptation techniques to provide high-fidelity prediction of complex aerodynamic flows in automated manner;
- model reduction techniques to provide rapid solution of parametrized PDEs in many-query or real-time scenarios arising in optimization, uncertainty quantification, and in-situ computation;
- model reduction techniques for large-scale and high-dimensional engineering systems;
- data assimilation techniques that incorporate experimental data and simulation within a single mathematical framework to address model errors.
The group works on both the fundamental development and analysis of numerical methods as well as their application to aerospace engineering problems. On one hand, rigorous mathematical analyses are essential to the development of robust computational methods. On the other hand, the application to industrial problems is essential to assess the effectiveness of the methods in real engineering scenarios.
Space Flight Lab – Nanosatellite and Microsatellite Missions
Email: rzee (at_sign) utias-sfl.net
- Ph.D. – University of Toronto
- M.A.Sc. – University of Toronto
- B.A.Sc. – University of Waterloo
Research Overview: Space Flight Laboratory: Microsatellite Systems
The Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) is Canada’s premier microspace organization. SFL builds low-cost microsatellites and nanosatellites that continually push the performance envelope. Missions are typically developed with stringent attitude control and data requirements that are striking relative to the budget available. SFL’s credits include: MOST, Canada’s first space telescope; CanX-2, a technology demonstrator and atmospheric science satellite; NTS, a ship-tracking satellite developed in only six months and launched in the seventh; and AISSat-1, a three-axis controlled satellite developed to provide ship-tracking for the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment. SFL arranges launches through its Nanosatellite Launch Service (NLS) and provides customizable separation systems called “XPODs” for those launches. As part of its complete end-to-end mission capabilities, SFL maintains a mission control center consisting of multiple ground stations.
In addition to developing next generation missions and conducting research and development in disruptive space technologies, SFL trains graduate students through hands-on, practical experience in developing real space missions. Students are able to obtain experience they wouldn’t otherwise receive this early in their careers, giving them a unique advantage when they graduate and move on to industry or academia. Within the time it takes to complete a Master’s degree, students receive complete development cycle training, from mission conception through to launch and on-orbit operations, working side-by-side with SFL’s professional staff. The experience is multi-disciplinary, resulting in versatile engineering graduates that are always in high demand.
At present, SFL operates three satellites from its mission control center, MOST, CanX-2, and NTS, and supports operations for AISSat-1. Each satellite represents an advance in the field and has broken barriers relative to what small satellites can do. The 53-kilogram MOST satellite was launched in June 2003 and continues to operate well beyond its one year operational requirement. It is a space astronomy satellite that has made numerous scientific discoveries related to solar-type stars and exoplanets. CanX-2 is Canada’s smallest operational satellite and is the size of a milk carton. It is among the smallest scientific satellites in the world and features three-axis attitude stabilization. Nanosatellite Tracking of Ships (NTS), a 6.5-kilogram satellite and an outstanding success, was built in six months and launched together with CanX-2 in April 2008 to demonstrate leading edge ship detection technology from space. . AISSat-1 was launched in July 2010 to provide an unparalleled capability to monitor maritime traffic in Norwegian territorial waters in real time
Many more nanosatellite missions have been built or are under development, and they will be launched by SFL over the next several years.
Professor & U of T Distinguished Professor of Computational Aerodynamics and Sustainable Aviation
Computational Aerodynamics Lab
Email: dwz (at) oddjob.utias.utoronto.ca
- Ph.D. – University of Toronto
- M.A.Sc. – University of Toronto
- B.A.Sc. – University of Toronto
Awards and Honors:
- Tier I Canada Research Chair in Computational Aerodynamics and Environmentally Friendly Aircraft Design 2001-2015
- University of Toronto Distinguished Professor in Computational Aerodynamics and Sustainable Aviation
- Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering
- University of Toronto Faculty Award
- Guggenheim Fellowship
Research Overview: Computational Aerodynamics
Professor Zingg’s research areas include aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), aerodynamic shape optimization, and aerostructural optimization. His current research concentrates on both algorithm development and application of aerodynamic and aerostructural optimization to the design of unconventional low-drag aircraft configurations motivated by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. Together with colleagues from NASA, he is a co-author of the textbooks Fundamentals of Computational Fluid Dynamics and Fundamental Algorithms in Computational Fluid Dynamics, published by Springer in 2001 and 2014, respectively. He held a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Computational Aerodynamics and Environmentally Friendly Aircraft Design from 2001 to 2015 and currently holds the title of University of Toronto Distinguished Professor of Computational Aerodynamics and Sustainable Aviation. He was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004 for research in the design of environmentally friendly aircraft and the J.J. Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award in 2016.
The motivation for the research in the computational aerodynamics group is based on two premises. The first is that we require a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per passenger-km from the next generation of aircraft. Although the current contribution of civil aviation to climate change is relatively modest, demand for air travel is projected to increase at 3-4% per year, while emissions per passenger-km have historically decreased at a rate of 1% per year. This situation is not sustainable, and we need aggressive R&D to obtain larger reductions in emissions. The second premise is that CFD and aerodynamic shape optimization can play an important role in achieving this goal through the development and evaluation of new concepts and aircraft configurations for drag reduction. The specific goals of the computational aerodynamics group are:
1. To advance the state of the art in algorithms for CFD as well as aerodynamic and aerostructural optimization.
2. To apply these algorithms to the development of drag reduction techniques and the next generation of aircraft with greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions per passenger-km.
The group currently has strong interactions with several organizations, most notably Bombardier Aerospace, Airbus, and the NASA Ames Research Center.
At the core of the research are novel algorithms for CFD and aerodynamic shape optimization developed by the group. The parallel implicit flow solver Diablo combines an efficient Newton-Krylov-Schur algorithm with a higher-order spatial discretization based on summation-by-parts operators and simultaneous approximation terms applicable to multi-block structured grids. This combination provides a unique and powerful algorithm for the numerical solution of the Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equations as well as large-eddy and direct simulations of turbulent flows. The optimization code Jetstream utilizes this flow solver in conjunction with an adjoint technique for gradient evaluation and novel approaches to mesh movement, geometry parameterization, and geometry control. Jetstream has been applied to the optimization of various wings and aircraft, including nonplanar wings and unconventional aircraft configurations.
Several current projects in the computational aerodynamics group are aimed at the development of novel high-order operators for CFD based on the summation-by-parts property for both structured and unstructured grids. In recent years, the group has made some important contributions in this area that have led to numerous opportunities for future research. In addition several projects are aimed at the development of new algorithms for aerodynamic and aerostructural optimization and their application to the design of new aircraft configurations with reduced drag as well as active flow control techniques for drag reduction and morphing wings. Within these general areas, there are numerous exciting thesis topics.
Applications from talented students are always welcome. Please see Professor Zingg’s web site for more up-to-date information. Several recent papers are posted there.
Chief Technology officer, Gedex Inc.
Senior Research officer, Competency Leader in Numerical Simulation, National Research Council of Canada
Director, Research & Development. MDA Corp.
President & CEO, Canadensys Aerospace Corp.