Engineering Dean’s Award-Winning Paper Advances
Ability of Robots to Track Their Surroundings

Dec. 11, 2008

In a sort of research trifecta, Mark Spong, the dean of engineering and computer science at UT Dallas, has won his third best-paper award of the year.

In the latest paper by Dean Spong to be recognized with a best-paper award, he and his co-authors address the so-called “visual-servo control problem.” The paper focuses on research designed to help robots and other intelligent machines understand and interact with their surroundings by visually tracking movement that takes place around them.

Advanced robotic vision systems that provide what’s known as “dynamic visual feedback” have potential applications ranging from robotic surgery to the exploration of other planets, he said.

“This paper is a significant contribution to vision-based robotic control,” wrote Dr. Martin Buss of the Technical University of Munich in nominating the paper for the 2008 IEEE Transactions on Control System Technology Outstanding Paper Award. “The approach of this paper is quite novel, and the approach is clear-cut and well presented. There are very few results available that can account for the nonlinear … dynamics of the manipulator and the dynamics of the vision estimator together. [This paper] not only gives theoretical results but also performs experiments in order to demonstrate the performance of the present control system.”

The award is given annually to a paper published in the past two years in the IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology. The criteria for the award include originality, relevance, clarity of exposition and demonstrated impact on control systems technology. The 2008 award was presented to Dean Spong and his co-authors Dec. 10 at the IEEE Conference on Decision and Control in Cancun, Mexico.

Titled “Passivity-based Dynamic Visual Feedback Control for Three Dimensional Target Tracking: Stability and L2-gain Performance Analysis,” the paper was co-authored by Dr. Masayuki Fujita of the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Dr. Hiroyuki Kawai of the Kanazawa Institute of Technology.

Dr. Spong’s other award-winning papers this year dealt with two other aspects of robot control: remote teleoperation and bipedal locomotion. “What the three papers have in common are the control systems that underlie walking, grasping and visually tracking movement in your environment,” he said.

Dr. Spong has been dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas since August. He also holds the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering. His research concerns robotics and the interconnected networks of microprocessors, sensors and actuators that control dozens of processes and variables inside modern engineering systems and machines.


Media Contacts: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Dr. Mark Spong won his third best-paper award of the year for research that addresses the so-called “visual-servo control problem” in robots.

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