CRUSER Thesis Highlights
Selection of NPS CRUSER Theses/Projects
NPS Students complete a graduate-level thesis or capstone project as part of their degree. Students with an interest in Unmanned Systems/Robotics can join CRUSER and participate in a variety of ways: participating in concept generation workshops, writing articles for CRUSER News, giving presentations at CRUSER monthly meetings, showcasing their research at Robots in the Roses, and giving presentations at the CRUSER Technical Continuum. CRUSER has funding for students to travel to support their CRUSER-related research.
Below are samples of some of the excellent research by NPS Students. The Thesis Completed section contains a more extensive listing
Thesis Topic Selected
Acquisition Strategy for Unmanned Ground Vehicles
CPT Jason McPhee, USA, Systems Acquisition Management, Dec 2014
Thesis Topic Selected
LT William Mamourieh, USN, Defense Analysis, estimated Dec 2014
SE Capstone Project Completed
CRUSER Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Interim Flight Clearances
Mr Stephen Williams, Ms Sarah Reich, LCDR Brent Olde, Mr Jason Wong, Systems Engineering, Mar 2014
In the past 12 years of sustained conflict, the Department of Defense (DoD) has procured thousands of unmanned aircraft systems for critical missions and flight safety is a major concern. The NPS capstone project is a three academic quarter long project that studies a real-world systems engineering problem confronting NAVAIR.
Normally, the problem concerns an engineering system, such as an aircraft, a weapons system, or an information system. Our capstone project is unusual in that it was concerned with a process, the Interim Flight Clearance process as applied to small Unmanned Aerial Systems used in research by the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). NPS uses very small UASs (less than 55 lbs.) in studying various applications of UAS technology. Because NPS is part of the Navy, the UASs are required to have Interim Flight Clearances (or IFCs) for test flights just like all other Navy-owned aircraft. The IFC process was designed to minimize risk when testing expensive, piloted aircraft and relies heavily on thorough, formally documented analysis. This sort of analysis is often not available or impractical for the small research UASs, which are often modified RC model aircraft. This has at times slowed the IFC process to months, when larger, more complex aircraft can get often IFCs within days. The delay in research is significant when other countries and civilian researchers in the USA are not restrained by the need to get certification for their small UAS projects.
The project team studied the IFC process and the interaction between NPS and NAVAIR to determine methods that would result in faster IFCs while allowing NAVAIR to guarantee that risk in testing has been identified and minimized. These methods included improvements in documentation, better means for information exchange between NPS and NAVAIR, and tools for determining risk in operating small UASs. The study involved extensive background research of the IFC process and interviews with NPS researchers and NAVAIR personnel involved in the IFC process.
Real-Time Dynamic Model Learning And Adaptation For Underwater Vehicles
LT Joshua Weiss, USN, Mechanical Engineering, Sept 2013
Precision control of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) requires accurate knowledge of the dynamic characteristics of the vehicles. However, developing such models are time and resource intensive. The problem is further exacerbated by the sensitivity of the dynamic model to vehicle configuration. This is particularly true for hovering-class UUVs since sensor payloads are often mounted outside the vehicle body. Methods are investigated in this thesis to learn the dynamic model for such a hovering-class UUV in real time from motion and position measurements. Several system identification techniques, including gradient estimation, Bayesian estimation, neural network estimation, and recursive linear least square estimation, are employed to estimate equations of motion coefficients. Experimental values are obtained for the surge, sway, heave, and yaw degrees of freedom. Theoretical results are obtained for the roll and pitch degrees of freedom. The experimentally obtained model is then compared to the true vehicle behavior.
Diver Relative UUV Navigation For Joint Human-Robot Operations
LT Andrew Streenan, USN, Undersea Warfare, Sept 2013
A novel application for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) is considered here: a robotic diver assistant that enables close-quarters robotic operations with human divers. A robotic diver assistant has the potential to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of diver operations. The robot diver assistant must share the operating environment with human divers: the robot must navigate relative to the environment to reach a specified site location (along with moving divers), then maneuver among the mostly static divers as they perform their tasks on location. Strategies for navigating among divers while ensuring diver safety are presented in this paper. A reactive strategy, based on potential fields, is investigated as well as a deliberative approach for path following.
The Effectiveness of UAVs in helping secure a border characterized by rough terrain and active terrorists
1st LT Begum Ozcan, Turkish Air Force, Operations Research, Jun 2013
Border security is of great importance for most countries. Many countries have spent significant portion of its budget to protect its border against terrorists, smugglers, and illegal immigrants over decades. Turkey has been in conflict with terrorist groups since the eighties. Up to now, more than 40,000 people have been killed, including the Turkish soldiers and civilians. The porosity and openness of Turkey’s Iraq border has been a problem in counter-terrorism. Additional with the hard geography of the region, border porosity creates a passage for terrorist groups to move material and personnel support through the border. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are critical component of modern day reconnaissance and surveillance. Technical capabilities of UAVs can be used to improve coverage along the borders. However; their effectiveness is highly dependent on the characteristics of the region. This analysis examines the impact of UAVs on detection and classification of terrorists who use the southeast border, characterized by rough terrain, as passage from Northern Iraq into Turkey.
A Systems Engineering Analysis of Unmanned Maritime Systems for U.S. Coast Guard Missions
LT JB Zorn, Coast Guard, Systems Engineering, Jun 2013
The U.S. Coast Guard is uniquely suited to utilize multi-mission unmanned maritime systems (UMS) to maintain its leading role in maritime safety, security and stewardship. Current UMS technological capabilities coupled with USCG mission needs motivate an analysis of proposed USCG UMS through a systems engineering methodology. This work begins by decomposing the capability needs for USCG UMS by developing a series of concepts of operations (CONOPS) in a “solution neutral” context. Following capabilities analysis, multi-mission commonalities help derive three USCG UMS alternatives:(1) Cutter-Based Tactical UUV, (2) Shore-Based Harbor/Coastal UUV/USV, and (3) Operational Offshore USV. These alternatives and their respective system architectures provide a design concept for near- to mid-term (5-10 year) acquisition. Finally, feasibility analysis reviews key system enablers (such as technology, capability, policy, and supportability and manpower) for the alternatives to justify a realistic integration time line. Recommendations for technology investments, enhanced UMS partnerships, USCG unmanned system policies and organizational knowledge are provided to reduce delays and to accelerate delivery of needed capabilities to the field. This study lays the foundation for future strategic planning of USCG UMS (i.e., a USCG UMS Roadmap) while providing additional motivation for USCG unmanned systems in general.
Effects Of UAV Supervisory Control On F-18 Formation Flight Performance In A Simulator Environment
LCDR Eric L. McMullen, USN, MAJ Shane Grass, USA, MOVES, Jun 2013
Continual advances in technology, along with increased cockpit workload particularly the shift from two-seat to singleseat fighters to save money and reduce risk to lifepush the limits of human mental capacity. Additionally, there is interest within the military aviation community to integrate Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) control into the cockpit in order to expand force projection capability. This study compared the effects on formation flight performance of two different secondary tasks, specifically a traditional secondary task such as target prosecution with an electro-optical Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) pod, and a futuristic secondary task such as UAV supervisory control. A total of 34 military fighter aviators volunteered to fly three five-minuteF-18 simulator sessions in close formation with no secondary task, and then treated with each of the two secondary tasks. Results provided clear indication that the futuristic task was significantly more challenging than the traditional task, and that both secondary tasks significantly increased the average mean following distance and variance compared to the undistracted flying baseline scenario. Additionally, we found no evidence that increased flight experience (total flight hours) significantly improved performance of the prescribed primary task when treated with the futuristic task distraction. Knowledge gained from the results could contribute to improved crew resource management (CRM) and pilot workload management as well as flight safety resulting from the modification of flight procedures based on known effects of distractions in the cockpit.
Integrating Coordinated Path Following Algorithms To Mitigate The Loss Of Communication Among Multiple UAVs
LT Kyungnho Kim, USN, Information Technology Management, Mar 2013
The thesis addresses the problem of mid-air collision avoidance among multiple Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) capable of communicating their flight states across a time-varying communication network. The UAVs capabilities to (a) follow a given path and to (b) exchange and coordinate their relative position while on the path are considered the key factors enabling the time-critical coordination that in turn guarantees the safety of flight. The thesis is based on the key results of the recently developed concept of Coordinated Path Following (CPF) for multiple autonomous agents. While the path-following methodology is adapted without modification, the information exchange over the time-varying communication network and its impact on the performance of coordination was analyzed in a comparative study. The impact of the time-varying information flow is represented by the loss of link ratio, which is the ratio of time without information exchange to the nominal timeframe of communication in a given bidirectional network. The particular coordination metrics utilized are the coordination error (difference between the relative positions of UAVs on the paths) and the Euclidian distance between the UAVs (space separation). On the other hand, the control effort necessary to achieve the desired coordination is represented by the level and variation of the commanded velocity profile. The particular goal of the numerical study was to understand the amount of control effort required to achieve the desired separation of UAVs capable of exchanging a minimum number of parameters over a degrading communication network.
Analysis of Nondeterministic Search Patterns for Minimization of UAV Counter-Targeting
LT Timothy S Stevens, USN, Operations Research, Mar 2013
In an attempt to mitigate the expanding counter-UAV capabilities of adversary countries developed in response to the United States_ increased reliance on these platforms, we apply a nondeterministic search pattern to a finite area searcher. By implementing a Levy distribution on search leg lengths we analyze the trade-offs between efficiency and evasiveness of the searcher, comparing the expected time to target detection for a given set of Levy parameters to a probabilistic time to counter-targeting based on intelligence driven enemy capability. The culmination of this thesis is the development of a robust simulation tool, capable of modeling various parameters on both searcher and search area, the output of which is a quantifiable estimate on the probability of mission success.
The EP-3E vs. the BAMS UAS An Operating and Support Cost Comparison
LT Colin Larkins, USN, Information Warfare, Sept 2012
The battlefield is constantly changing and the need for swift, persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), has increased the focus on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to help meet collection requirements. Certain UAVs can have longer dwell and on-station times than manned vehicles, with some UAVs capable of dwell times in excess of 20 hours. UAVs have an additional benefit of eliminating some of the risks associated with manned aircraft conducting ISR missions. Consequently, UAVs have been closely reviewed as a replacement craft for several manned ISR aircraft and have taken increasing roles in the world of ISR. Given an uneven record of success in the implementation of UAS, and Congressional concerns regarding the relative cost of UAV programs, the purpose of this thesis is to reexamine, compare and analyze the Operating and Support (O and S) costs for both the EP-3E ISR aircraft with the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) that the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) has declared to be the primary system to replace the EP-3E capability. This comparison includes all costs from initial system deployment through the end of the platforms service life. This thesis uses the revised O and S cost methodology in accordance with Department of Defense (DoD) Instruction 5000.2, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System. In addition, a typical O and S comparison, this thesis modifies the existing BAMS O and S costs to account for the additional costs of bandwidth, ground station support, collection sites, and risks as they apply to the BAMS UAS. These factors were not adequately considered in the original O and S analysis. Once the analysis and comparison is completed, a recommendation is made as to whether or not the decision to replace the EP-3E ISR system with the BAMS UAS should be revisited.
Completed Thesis Research Projects
Historical Completed Theses
March 2011 to Present
Search the Dudley Knox Library repository of NPS Theses on Calhoun here
2005 - Sept 2013