1999 Events:

December 9, 1999: "Advanced Automation for Semiconductor Wafer Handling" by Dr. Steve Remis, PRI Automation/OEM Systems Division

Abstract: The semiconductor equipment industry uses some of the most complicated, precise controls over the processes which fabricate today's chips. These advanced controls, however, are not generally applied to the automation equipment which moves wafers among the various processes. Compared to industrial automation, semiconductor equipment automation lags far behind in the areas of advanced controls, mechanisms, and sensory feedback. The unique challenges for semiconductor automation include cleanliness, workspace size, and cost, which are much more strict for this equipment than for industrial automation. During this presentation we'll explore the differences between industrial and semiconductor automation implementations, and demonstrate recent advances in semiconductor automation equipment and controls.

bio: Steve Remis has spent the past eleven years in robotics research and development. His interest in robotics began as a biomedical research engineer in the US Air Force's "Robotic Telepresence" program, in which he was responsible for developing technology to provide force feedback to the human operator of a remotely slaved robot. After graduate school, Steve started his own company to market singularity-free industrial robots to the manufacturing sector. For the past eight months, he has been the Director of Advanced Technology for PRI Automation/OEM Systems Division, which manufactures robot systems for the semiconductor capital equipment market. Steve received the BS degree in electrical and biomedical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, and the MS and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

November 11, 1999: "Control of Underwater ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles)" by David Jeffrey, DeepOcean Engineering

Abstract: Deep Ocean Engineering, Inc. is an engineering and manufacturing company, based on the San Francisco Bay, which designs and manufactures a variety of underwater vehicles. The history of ROV control systems will be reviewed, and will be illustrated in detail with two cutting-edge underwater ROVs, the Deep Rovers (one- and two-man submarines) and the Phantom and Phoenix families. These developments were supported by the Department of Energy (DOE). David Jeffrey will illustrate two decades of intimate involvement in ROV development with a variety of colorful slides. Topics will include: the pros and cons of using computers in ROV control systems, choice of hardware, choice of operating system and software, power transmission and umbilical cable considerations.

bio: David Jeffrey was born Edinburgh, Scotland. He received an MA degree from Edinburgh University. He first worked as an electronics engineer in London, but soon went back to Edinburgh University and spent 15 years as a research engineer with converting the power in ocean waves to electricity. In 1983 David left Scotland to join Deep Ocean Engineering in California and is currently Senior Vice President in charge of engineering design.

David Jeffrey published numerous papers on such diverse subjects as speech analysis, microprocessor-controlled instrumentation, underwater manipulator operation, long pipeline inspections, and R(emotely) O(perated) V(ehicle) control systems.

October 28, 1999: "Observability Augmentation Via Kinematic Constraints in Passive, Single-Observer Tracking" by M. Michael Briggs (Actual presentation by Wendelin Sonntag) Integrated Systems, Inc.

Abstract: Estimation of the state vector of remote objects using angles-only measurements from a single, passive observation device has previously been infeasible without measurement or situation-based estimation of range. In this talk, the strategy of applying rational kinematic constraints to the mathematical formulation of the angles-only state estimation problem is addressed as a means of inducing observability to an extent where the position, velocity, and acceleration states of a moving object can be successfully estimated with unprecedented accuracy. Kinematic Constraints are formal, mathematically-expressed limits on the motion of the body being tracked that can be applied to the estimation problem in various ways that have varying degrees of "softness"; of course, such limits need to be largely consistent with the expected behavior or capabilities of the moving object. In this talk, the idea of applying kinematic constraints as Pseudomeasurements for a Kalman Filter is discussed, and some results obtained from simulated tracking experiments are presented.

bio: Mike Briggs received his B. S. Degree in Aerospace Engineering from The University Of Texas at Austin in 1965. He worked for Douglas Aircraft Co and McDonnell Douglas for 17 years, Nielsen Engineering and Research for 3 years, and is presently with Integrated Systems Inc. where he was Director of the Vehicle Systems Department and held several other positions there over the past 16 years; he is presently Major Accounts Manager and Western Region District Sales Manager.

September 16,1999: "Genetic Search Methods for Nonlinear Control and Signal Processing" by Dr. P. K. Menon, Optimal Synthesis, Inc.

Abstract: Genetic search methods have attracted significant research attention in recent years. These methods have been proposed as solutions to difficult search problems. Several textbooks are currently available, and university courses on these techniques are being offered. An interesting aspect of the genetic search techniques is that they are equally effective in numerical and non-numerical search problems. When formulated properly, genetic search methods can outperform purely random search methods.

However, this power comes at a cost. On numerical search problems involving smooth, well-behaved functions, genetic search methods are not as effective as traditional search methods that exploit additional information such as the first and second derivatives. In these problems, genetic search methods can be computationally wasteful and may not produce the desired level of accuracy. Thus, the first step in the effective use of these methods is to assess whether these methods are appropriate for the problems that the analyst is attempting to solve.

This talk will examine the application of genetic search methods in the design of automatic control systems and signal processing algorithms. Issues involved in the use of genetic search techniques in practical control problems will be examined. Several design examples will be presented, followed by a software demonstration.

bio: Dr. Menon has been involved in the development of nonlinear control systems for aircraft, rotorcraft, missiles, launch vehicles, spacecraft, and robots. In the past, he has received support in these research areas from the Navy, NASA, Air Force and the Army. He has published extensively in professional journals and has presented papers at various national and international conferences.

Dr. Menon has been the president and chief scientist at Optimal Synthesis Inc since 1992. His experience includes 15 years as a research scientist in the aerospace industry, 8 years at universities as a faculty member and 3 years with NASA as a visiting scientist. He has taught advanced graduate courses in Flight Vehicle Dynamics, Guidance and Control, Machine Vision, and Digital Signal Processing. He has directed Ph. D dissertations and numerous graduate Projects. Dr. Menon has lead short courses on automatic control at national conferences.

Dr. Menon is a member of the IEEE, AHS, Sigma Gamma Tau, and is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA. He is the recipient of research awards from NASA and the IEEE. Dr. Menon is a reviewer for 10 different archival journals on automatic control and signal processing, and has served as an Associate Editor of the AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics.