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IEEE Control Systems Technology Award 2004

Sridhar receives IEEE Control Systems Technology Award

Banavar Sridhar, chief, Automation Concepts Branch, Aviation Systems Division, received the 2004 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Control Systems Technology Award for the development of modeling and simulation techniques for multi-vehicle traffic networks and advanced air traffic management systems through innovative application of control systems concepts. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to control systems technology either in design and implementation or project management. The award consists of $2,000, a plaque and travel expenses to the IEEE Conference on Decision and Control.

Sridhar has a long and distinguished career in flight dynamics, controls and more recently air traffic management. He is widely recognized in industry and academia for his pioneering work in the application of singular perturbation theory to the real-time optimal guidance of missiles against maneuvering targets (1980). In the late 1980s, while at Lockheed Research Center, he shifted his research to address the identification and control of large space structures. Again, Sridhar's contributions were central to this evolving area of research and were included in the design of major space structures including the Space Infrared Telescope Facility and the space station.

In 1986, Sridhar joined NASA, where he initiated a research effort in computer vision for obstacle detection in low altitude helicopter flight. He devised an innovative approach for integrating airborne state information with digital imagery for detecting range information to obstacles along the flight path of a vehicle. The incorporation of a vision sensor for navigation and guidance is essential to the design of many robotic and intelligent systems. Sridhar achieved a major 'first' with the successful flight demonstration of his real-time obstacle detection and ranging algorithms on a NASA/Army UH-60 helicopter in June 1996. His methodology led to continuing work at universities and other government laboratories. The NASA Aeronautics Advisory Committee commended his research as being at the forefront of spatial signal processing and providing an excellent balance between algorithm development and experimental validation.

In the last seven years, Sridhar has redirected his research interests in response to the nation's goal to provide the technology to improve the safety and capacity of the nation’s air transportation system. As a part of this research, Sridhar identified the need for an analysis tool that could be used to validate the usefulness of the proposed technologies under a variety of conditions. This led to his design and development of a capability now referred to as the Future Air Transportation System Concept Evaluation Tool (FACET). FACET includes a set of air traffic models and analysis tools that have become a standard for system-level analysis. FACET is key to exploring many of the new concepts in traffic flow management and has already been used to make key investment decisions.

Several organizations have requested and received a copy of the FACET software under NASA Non-Disclosure and/or Licensing Agreements. FACET received the 2001 NASA Turning Goals into Reality (TGIR) Award. During 2002, FACET received NASA Space Act Board Award and NASA Space Act Software Release Award. Currently, FACET is being incorporated into a commercial product referred to as Flight Explorer that is used by many of the Airline Operation Centers for the management and routing of their individual fleets. The FAA has included a portion of the FACET functionality in its latest release of the En Route Traffic Management System (ETMS).

Sridhar is widely recognized by his peers for his many contributions. He received the Bay Area chapter of the AIAA Engineer of the Year Award in the category of information systems (1991); IEEE AES Barry Carlton Award (1994); NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1995); and the Best Paper Award by the American Helicopter Society (1996). Sridhar was elected Fellow of the IEEE (2001) for advances in computer vision-based obstacle detection and developments in low-altitude helicopter flight. AIAA elected Sridhar to Fellow (2001) grade for his fundamental contributions to automated guidance of aerospace vehicles and the development of a passive ranging system for low-altitude high speed helicopter operations.

In 2001, Ames Basic Research Council elected him as an Ames Associate Fellow. Additionally, Sridhar has a long and distinguished record of service to the aerospace community. He has served the AIAA in various capacities including technical program chair for the 1999 AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) Conference; conference program co-chair for the 1998 AIAA GNC conference; and a member of the AIAA GNC technical committee. Outside the AIAA, he has served on the editorial board of IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control; IEEE Controls Systems magazine; IFAC Journal Control Engineering Practice; International Journal of Machine Vision and Applications; and as guest editor for IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems Special Issue on Air Traffic Control Systems.

Source: NASA Ames Research Center Astrogram, April 2005.

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