SYS 6582 / 4582 - Spring 2016

Instructor: Cody Fleming
Department: Systems and Information Engineering



The picture above depicts active cruise control in a car—throughout this semester we will motivate the topic of collaborative autonomy by discussing the evolution from the basic automotive control mechanisms of the past all the way to driverless cars of tomorrow.

This course covers many fundamental topics in classical and modern control theory; however, it will be different from many controls courses in its focus. We will focus on design issues involving the interaction between humans and autonomy and/or the interactions between autonomous systems and other autonomous systems.


Topics will be motivated by familiar, real-world examples, which will be used to develop the basic principles of feedback and its use as a tool for altering the dynamics of systems and managing uncertainty. Key themes throughout the course will include input/output response, modeling of dynamic systems, linear versus nonlinear models, performance analysis, and optimality. We will cover the following general topics:

  1. Introduction to Automation—emphasis on feedback control, particularly the development of theory in discrete time (with a nod to continuous time);

  2. Automation-Human Interaction—why does a course on autonomy include humans?! Any time the output of one system influences the behavior of another, which in turn influences the first, there is a feedback system. Humans interacting with automation–in particular control systems–has implications in aerospace engineering, decision sciences, transportation, medicine, and many other domains; and

  3. Automation-Automation Interaction—we will continue section 2 by exploring the issues that arise when we have one control system interacting with another, or many others. How do we plan for those interactions? What do we do when unplanned interactions arise?


  • this course assumes a basic knowledge of linear algebra and ODEs. Familiarity with complex variables (Laplace transforms) is helpful but not required

  • this course assumes a working knowledge of programming; Matlab will be used, but we will give tutorials early and often

  • a previous course in feedback control systems is NOT required