Optimal Control of Switched Autonomous Systems: Theory, Algorithms, and Robotic Applications
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As control systems are becoming more and more complex, system complexity is rapidly becoming a limiting factor in the efficacy of established techniques for control systems design. To cope with the growing complexity, control architectures often have a hierarchical structure. At the base of the system pyramid lie feedback loops with simple closed-loop control laws. These are followed, at a higher level, by discrete control logics. Such hierarchical systems typically have a hybrid nature. A common approach to addressing these types of complexity consists of decomposing, in the time domain, the control task into a number of modes, i.e. control laws dedicated to carrying out a limited task. This type of control generally involves switching laws among the various modes, and its design poses a major challenge in many application domains. The primary goal of this thesis is to develop a unified framework for addressing this challenge. To this end, the contribution of this thesis is threefold: 1. An algorithmic framework for how to optimize the performance of switched autonomous systems is derived. The optimization concerns both the sequence in which different modes appear in and the duration of each mode. The optimization algorithms are presented together with detailed convergence analyses. 2. Control strategies for how to optimize switched autonomous systems operating in real time, and when the initial state of the system is unknown, are presented. 3. A control strategy for how to optimally navigate an autonomous mobile robot in real-time is presented and evaluated on a mobile robotics platform. The control strategy uses optimal switching surfaces for when to switch between different modes of operations (behaviors).