Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: New Results

Networked and multi-agent systems: modeling, analysis, and estimation

Modeling of animal groups

Participants : P. Frasca [Contact person] , A. Aydogdu [Rutgers University at Camden] , C. d'Apice [Univ. Salerno] , R. Manzo [Univ. Salerno] , W. Saidel [Rutgers University at Camden] , B. Piccoli [Rutgers University at Camden] .

The paper [13] introduces a mathematical model to study the group dynamics of birds resting on wires. The model is agent-based and postulates attraction-repulsion forces between the interacting birds: the interactions are “topological”, in the sense that they involve a given number of neighbors irrespective of their distance. The main properties of the model are investigated by combining rigorous mathematical analysis and simulations. This analysis gives indications about the total length of a group and the inter-animal spacings within it: in particular, the model predicts birds to be more widely spaced near the borders of each group. We compare these insights from the model with new experimental data, derived from the analysis of pictures of pigeons and starlings taken by the team in New Jersey. We have used two different image elaboration protocols to derive the data for the statistical analysis, which allowed us to establish a good agreement with the model and to quantify its main parameters. Our data also seem to indicate potential handedness of the birds: we investigated this issue by analyzing the group organization features and the group dynamics at the arrival of new birds. However, data are still insufficient to draw a definite conclusion on this matter. Finally, arrivals and departures of birds from the group are included in a refined version of the model, by means of suitable stochastic processes.

Cyber-Physical Systems: a control-theoretic approach to privacy and security

Participants : A. Kibangou [Contact person] , F. Garin, S. Gracy, H. Nouasse.

Cyber-physical systems are composed of many simple components (agents) with interconnections giving rise to a global complex behaviour. Interesting recent research has been exploring how the graph describing interactions affects control-theoretic properties such as controllability or observability, namely answering the question whether a small group of agents would be able to drive the whole system to a desired state, or to retrieve the state of all agents from the observed local states only. A related problem is observability in the presence of an unknown input, where the input can represent a failure or a malicious attack, aiming at disrupting the normal system functioning while staying undetected. In our work [24], we study linear network systems affected by a single unknown input. The main result is a characterization of input and state observability, namely the conditions under which both the whole network state and the unknown input can be reconstructed from some measured local states. This characterization is in terms of observability of a suitably-defined subsystem, which allows the use of known graphical characterizations of observability of cyber-physical systems, leading to structural results (true for almost all interaction weights) or strong structural results (true for all non-zero interaction weights). Observability is also related to privacy issues. In the ProCyPhyS project, started recently (October 2016), we are studying privacy-preserving properties of cyber-physical systems, by analyzing observability properties of such systems, in order to derive privacy-preserving policies for applications related to smart mobility.

Sensor networks: Multisensor data fusion for attitude estimation

Participants : H. Fourati [Contact person] , A. Kibangou, A. Makni, T. Michel, P. Geneves [Tyrex, Inria] , N. Layaida [Tyrex, Inria] , J. Wu [University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu] , Z. Zhou [University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu] , D. Belkhiat [University Ferhat Abbas, Setif, Algeria] .

Attitude estimation consists in the determination of rigid body orientation in 3D space (principally in terms of Euler angles, rotation matrix, or quaternion). This research area is a multilevel, multifaceted process involving the automatic association, correlation, estimation, and combination of data and information from several sources. Another interest consists in the fact that redundant and complementary sensor data can be fused and integrated using multisensor fusion techniques to enhance system capability and reliability. Data fusion for attitude estimation is therefore a research area that borrows ideas from diverse fields, such as signal processing, sensor fusion, and estimation theory, where enhancements are involved in point-of-view data authenticity or availability. Data fusion for attitude estimation is motivated by several issues and problems, such as data imperfection, data multimodality, data dimensionality, and processing framework. As a majority of these problems have been identified and heavily investigated, no single data fusion algorithm is capable of addressing all the aforementioned challenges. Consequently, a variety of methods in the literature focuses on a subset of these issues. These concepts and ideas are treated in the book [28], as a response to the great interest and strong activities in the field of multisensor attitude estimation during the last few years, both in theoretical and practical aspects. In the team, we have carried out works related to attitude estimation evaluation for pedestrian navigation purpose. In [18], we focused on two main challenges. The first one concerns the attitude estimation during dynamic cases, in which external acceleration occurs. In order to compensate for such external acceleration, we design a quaternion-based adaptive Kalman filter q-AKF. Precisely, a smart detector is designed to decide whether the body is in static or dynamic case. Then, the covariance matrix of the external acceleration is estimated to tune the filter gain. The second challenge is related to the energy consumption issue of gyroscope. In order to ensure a longer battery life for the Inertial Measurement Units, we study the way to reduce the gyro measurements acquisition by switching on/off the sensor while maintaining an acceptable attitude estimation. The switching policy is based on the designed detector. The efficiency of the proposed scheme is evaluated by means of numerical simulations and experimental tests. In [31], we investigate the precision of attitude estimation algorithms in the particular context of pedestrian navigation with commodity smartphones and their inertial/magnetic sensors. We report on an extensive comparison and experimental analysis of existing algorithms. We focus on typical motions of smartphones when carried by pedestrians. We use a precise ground truth obtained from a motion capture system. We test state-of-the-art attitude estimation techniques with several smartphones, in the presence of magnetic perturbations typically found in buildings. We discuss the obtained results, analyze advantages and limits of current technologies for attitude estimation in this context. Furthermore, we propose a new technique for limiting the impact of magnetic perturbations with any attitude estimation algorithm used in this context. We show how our technique compares and improves over previous works. A novel quaternion-based attitude estimator with magnetic, angular rate, and gravity (MARG) sensor arrays is proposed in [20] within the framework of collaboration with Prof. Zhou from University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu. A new structure of a fixed-gain complementary filter is designed fusing related sensors. To avoid using iterative algorithms, the accelerometer-based attitude determination is transformed into a linear system. Stable solution to this system is obtained via control theory. With only one matrix multiplication, the solution can be computed. Using the increment of the solution, we design a complementary filter that fuses gyroscope and accelerometer together. The proposed filter is fast, since it is free of iteration. We name the proposed filter the fast complementary filter (FCF). To decrease significant effects of unknown magnetic distortion imposing on the magnetometer, a stepwise filtering architecture is designed. The magnetic output is fused with the estimated gravity from gyroscope and accelerometer using a second complementary filter when there is no significant magnetic distortion. Several experiments are carried out on real hardware to show the performance and some comparisons. Results show that the proposed FCF can reach the accuracy of Kalman filter. It successfully finds a balance between estimation accuracy and time consumption. Compared with iterative methods, the proposed FCF has much less convergence speed. Besides, it is shown that the magnetic distortion would not affect the estimated Euler angles.