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Nhan Nguyen Awarded U.S. Patent For Optimal Control Modification

Dr. Nhan Nguyen has been awarded a U.S. patent entitled “Control Systems with Normalized and Covariance Adaptation by Optimal Control Modification”. The patent was issued on March 29, 2016, and discloses a new adaptive control technology that provides robust adaptation for improved flight control performance. Adaptive control is an enabling capability for the operation of many future autonomous systems.

Optimal control modification is an optimal adaptive control technology that was developed by Nhan Nguyen in 2008. This technology has undergone extensive validation through many desktop simulations of aircraft models, as well as high-fidelity piloted simulations in the NASA Ames Advanced Concept Flight Simulator (ACFS) in 2009. Among the seven adaptive control technologies evaluated in the ACFS (including technologies from leading adaptive control experts from industry and academia), optimal control modification demonstrated excellent adaptation to a wide range of failure emulations. NASA Armstrong further evaluated this technology in an F-18 flight simulator and also obtained favorable results. This led to an optimal control modification flight test in 2010-11 on a NASA high-performance F/A-18 research aircraft (tail number 853). Flight test results confirmed the effectiveness of optimal control modification, thus validating this technology at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 5-6.

BACKGROUND: Dr. Nhan Nguyen developed optimal control modification in 2008 during his research under the Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control (IRAC) project. This technology is the first-ever approach that effectively exploits the connection between optimal and adaptive control theories. Following the development of this technology, leading researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology expressed a high degree of interest and further developed a spin-off method called Kalman filter modification in adaptive control. An extensive body of work has since been published with 24 publications, including three journal articles.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control (IRAC) project , Aviation Safety Program (2007-2010); Advanced Air Transport Technology (AATT) project, Advanced Air Vehicle Program (2011-present); both under the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

COLLABORATORS: John Burken (NASA Armstrong) and Curtis Hanson (NASA Armstrong)

POINT OF CONTACT: Nhan Nguyen, nhan.t.nguyen@nasa.gov

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