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CESG Fishbowl Seminar: “Systems of Unmanned Vehicles for Persistent Service: Concepts, Task Allocation, Design & Prototype Components”

June 18, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am


Dr. James R. Morrison

Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISysE) at KAIST, South Korea


Key points to include:

– Task allocation in multi-robot systems with logistics constraints for persistent operations

– Extended VRP models with various solution methodologies ranging from formal branch & price to fast accurate heuristics

– Stochastic control methods including dynamic programming, heuristics and learning to plan

– System design approaches in both the deterministic and stochastic contexts

– Implementation efforts including prototypes of system modules



The capabilities of modern affordable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) include vision based navigation, GPS tracking and cargo delivery among a host of other functions. Yet, despite these capabilities, their promise is limited by a finite energy source and restricted payload. To overcome the limitations of a single vehicle, a system consisting of a fleet of vehicles and replenishment service stations can be used to accomplish larger scale mission objectives. Persistent systems of unmanned vehicles can provide services including security escort, search and rescue and border patrol.

An essential function required for the operation of a system of unmanned vehicles is task allocation. If system resources are allocated wisely, more can be accomplished. For the task allocation problem, we will discuss both deterministic and stochastic centralized optimization approaches. In the deterministic context, we discuss column generation, branch and bound, receding horizon task allocation (RHTA) and custom heuristic approaches. In the stochastic context, we discuss dynamic programming, reinforcement learning, heuristic and learning algorithms.

Another key consideration is system design: how many resources are required and where should they be deployed? We discuss how task allocation methods can be extended to include design. A more computationally tractable approach considers system design at a higher level of abstraction. We provide an overview of work to address the design problem for multiple service stations and numerous customer service sites. Heuristic solution methods based on the classic savings algorithm combined with a Voronoi decomposition are compared with complete enumeration.

Finally, we discuss our efforts to develop a system of UAVs and service stations to serve as an automated security escort system at KAIST. Such a system consists of many components including UAVs, service stations, a customer service request app, GPS tracking software, vision tracking software, a simple AI for each UAV and a central task allocation system. The progress on this system, its components and related issues will be reviewed.



Dr. James R. Morrison (james.morrison@kaist.edu, http://xS3D.kaist.edu) received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISysE) at KAIST, South Korea. Since 2016, he has served as the Director of KICEP at KAIST. His research interests include persistent UAV service, Industry 4.0 and education. He has published over 90 peer reviewed journal and conference papers in these areas.

He has received teaching awards including the KAIST Creative Teaching (Grand Prize) Award in 2012 and the KAIST ISysE department teaching award in 2016. His work on UAV systems received the Grand Prize in the academic thesis category at the Korean DAPA iMSTF in July 2013. His PhD student was awarded the Best PhD Dissertation award from KAIST ISysE in 2015.

He has served on the steering committee for the International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS) since 2012. Since January 2009, he has been the corresponding Co-Chair of the IEEE RAS Technical Committee on Semiconductor Manufacturing Automation. He has been an associate editor for Flexible Services and Manufacturing since 2015 and a guest editor on numerous occasions. He has been the chair of the technical advisory board for SmartFabs Corporation since 2013. He has served in various organizational roles for IEEE CASE, ICUAS, MASM and ISMI since 2012.



June 18, 2018
10:00 am - 11:00 am


P.R. Kumar