Graduate Seminar Series – Dr. Rafael Fierro, UNM

“Towards Stable Interstellar Flight: Modeling and Stability a Laser-Propelled Sailcraft”

By: Dr. Rafael Fierro
Professor Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of New Mexico


ABSTRACT: Traveling to distant stars has long fascinated humanity, but vast distances limited space exploration to our solar system. The Breakthrough Starshot Program aims at eliminating this limitation by traveling to Alpha Centauri, which is 4.37 light-years away. The idea is to accelerate a sail to relativistic speeds using a laser beam aimed at the sail. Currently, sail dynamic stability of the sailcraft is not well understood and there is no agreement on the proper shape of the beam-driven sail. In this seminar, I will present some preliminary results on dynamic stability of a beam-driven sail modeled as a rigid body whose shape is parameterized by a sweep function. We analyze the stability of the beam-driven sail and estimate its region of attraction (ROA) using Lyapunov theory and Sum-Of-Square (SOS) programming. I will also summarize our recent efforts on aerial robotics including monitoring of extreme environments, a testbed and methods for counter small UAS, and airborne manipulation.

Dr, Rafael FierroBIO: Rafael Fierro is a Professor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the University of New Mexico, where he has been since 2007. He received his Bachelors of Science from the Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Quito-Ecuador, his MSc degree in control engineering from the University of Bradford, England, and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1997. Before joining UNM, he held a postdoctoral appointment with the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception (GRASP) Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania and a faculty position with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Oklahoma State University. His current research interests include cyber-physical systems; heterogeneous robotic networks; unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV); and machine learning. The National Science Foundation (NSF), US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Department of Energy (DOE), and Sandia National Laboratories have funded his research. He directs the AFRL-UNM Agile Manufacturing Center and the Multi-Agent, Robotics, and Heterogeneous Systems (MARHES) Laboratory. Dr. Fierro was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, a 2004 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and the 2008 International Society of Automation (ISA) Transactions Best Paper Award. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, IEEE Control Systems Magazine, IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems T-CNS, and IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering T-ASE


Friday, April 16, 3-4pm, Zoom meeting link:

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