Contact

Contact: Esther Eppele

Sr. Web Editor/Project Manager

Michigan Engineering

Communications & Marketing

(734) 615-7396

3214 SI-North

Ella M. Atkins | Faculty

About Ella Atkins

Professor Atkins' research program focuses on the integration of strategic and tactical planning and optimization algorithms to enable robust, autonomous aircraft and spacecraft flight in the presence of system failures and environmental uncertainties. Onboard automation must enhance performance while maintaining safe long-term operation robust to unexpected or failure scenarios. Mission and trajectory planners must yield acceptable low-cost solutions for single vehicles or coordinated teams operating nominally or, worst-case, in unfriendly, uncertain environments with degraded performance characteristics. Researchers have begun to speak of humans "on the loop" rather than "in the loop". Under this paradigm, humans are the mission managers and theatre commanders supported by an array of computational tools. These tools must acquire and accurately summarize mission-critical information for human supervisors while providing the underlying infrastructure that plans and executes missions in accordance with specified high-level directives. Hardware-based demonstration of single-vehicle and collaborative systems is a key component of Dr. Atkins' research. Current platforms include the Solus UAV and a planetary surface rover (see illustrations).

Dr. Atkins is author of over 60 archival and conference publications and serves as an associate editor for the AIAA Journal of Aerospace Computing, Information, and Communication (JACIC). She is a technical program chair for the AIAA Infotech@Aerospace conference and has served on several review boards and panels. She is chair-elect of the AIAA Intelligent Systems Technical Committee, an Associate Fellow of AIAA, a member of AAAI and IEEE, and a private pilot (ASEL).

EDUCATION

University of Michigan
PhD Computer Science and Engineering '99
MS Computer Science and Engineering '95

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MS Aeronautics and Astronautics '90
BS Aeronautics and Astronautics '88

SOCIETY MEMBERSHIPS

  • Member of AIAA, Associate Fellow
  • NSF Review Panel Member, 2004, 2005
  • NASA JPL Review Board, Deep Space Mission System and Mars Technology Programs, Panel Chair
  • Associate Editor, AIAA Journal of Aerospace Computing, Information, & Comunication (JACIC)
  • Technical Program Co-Chair, AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference, 2005 & 2007
  • Local Program Chair, IEEE Intl. Conference on Robotics & Automation (ICRA), 2002
  • Chair-elect, AIAA Intelligent Systems Technical Committee

Research Interests

Strategic (AI) and tactical (motion-based) planning/scheduling for individual and collaborative air and space systems, fault-tolerant flight management, UAV/MAV applications.

Teaching Interests

  • Flight Software Systems, AE 495 (ENAE 380 at University of Maryland)
  • Intelligent Automation of Aerospace Systems (ENAE 7881, University of Maryland)
  • Space Robotics (ENAE 692, University of Maryland)
  • Embedded Real-time Systems (ENAE 488E, University of Maryland)
  • Aerospace Computing (ENAE 202, University of Maryland)
  • Aerospace Analysis & Computation (ENAE 261, Unversity of Maryland)

Honors and Awards

  • NSF Career Award
  • Associate Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA)
  • Sloan Foundation Pre-Tenure Leave Fellowship
  • Aerospace Engineering Dept. Faculty Mentor Award, University of Maryland
  • GE Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, University of Michigan
  • Orenstein Fellowship, EECS Department, University of Michigan
  • Private Pilot (ASEL)
  • Scuba Certified (PADI)

Publications

  • T. F. Abdelzaher, E. M. Atkins, and K. G. Shin, “QoS Negotiation in Real-Time Systems and Its Application to Automated Flight Control,” IEEE Transactions on Computers, IEEE, vol. 49, no. 11, pp. 1170-1183, November 2000.
  • E. M. Atkins, T. F. Abdelzaher, K. G. Shin, and E. H. Durfee, "Planning and Resource Allocation for Hard Real-time, Fault-Tolerant Plan Execution," Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, vol. 4, no. 1/2, pp. 57-78, March/June 2001.
  • E. M. Atkins and M. Xue, “Noise Sensitive Final Approach Trajectory Optimization for Runway-Independent Aircraft,” Journal of Aerospace Computing, Information, and Communication (JACIC), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), vol. 1, no. 7, pp. 269-287, July 2004.
  • S. Roderick, B. Roberts, E. Atkins, and D. Akin, "The Ranger Robotic Satellite Servicer and its Autonomous Software-based Safety System," IEEE Intelligent Systems, IEEE, vol. 19, no. 5, pp. 13-20, Sept/Oct 2004.
  • S. Roderick, B. Roberts, E. Atkins, P. Churchill, and D. Akin, “Design and Validation of an Autonomous Software Safety System for a Dexterous Space Robot,” Journal of Aerospace Computing, Information, and Communication (JACIC), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), vol. 1, no. 12, pp. 564-579, Dec. 2004.
  • J. Lennon and E. Atkins, “Multi-Objective Spacecraft Trajectory Optimization with Synthetic Agent Oversight,” Journal of Aerospace Computing, Information, and Communication (JACIC), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 4-24, Jan. 2005.
  • D. Chavez-Clemente and E. Atkins, “Optimization of Tetrahedral Satellite Formations,” Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), vol. 42, no. 5, pp. 699-710, July-August 2005.
  • J. Smithanik, E. Atkins, and R. Sanner, “A Visual Positioning System for an Underwater Space Simulation Environment,” Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), to appear.
  • M. Xue and E. M. Atkins, “Runway-Independent Aircraft Approach Design for the Baltimore-Washington Airport,” Journal of Aircraft, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), to appear.
  • E. M. Atkins, I. Alonso-Portillo, and M. J. Strube, "Emergency Flight Planning applied to Total Loss of Thrust," Journal of Aircraft, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), to appear.
  • W. Ren and E. Atkins, “Distributed Multi-Vehicle Coordinated Control via Local Information Exchange,” International Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control, to appear.
  • T. Wasserman, J. Lennon, and E. Atkins, “Fault-Tolerant Vision-based Astronaut Following for Planetary Exploration”, Journal of Aerospace Computing, Information, and Communication, AIAA, to appear.
  • W. Ren, R. W. Beard, and E. M. Atkins, “Consensus Problems in Multi-vehicle Cooperative Control: A Tutorial Overview,” IEEE Control Systems Magazine, revision submitted.
  • A. Hoskins and E. Atkins, “Multi-Impulse Satellite Formation Optimization,” Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, AIAA, revision submitted.
  • L. Fesq and E. Atkins, “AAAI Spring Symposium Series: Robust Autonomy Symposium Summary”, AI Magazine, Fall 2001. 
Invited Talks:
  • Invited Speaker, “Robust Robotic Explorers with Symbolic and Continuous Reasoning Capabilities,” NASA GSFC Information Sciences and Technology (IS&T) Colloquium, Dec. 15, 2004.
  • Invited Panelist, “Strategic Planning and Contingency Response for Aerospace Applications,” Intelligent Systems Workshop, Infotech@Aerospace Conference, AIAA, September 2005.
  • Invited Speaker, “Robust Mission and Trajectory Planning for Air and Space Vehicles,” Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, October 25, 2005.
  • Invited Speaker, “Motion Planning and Cooperative Execution for Air and Space Sensor Teams,” IDGA Military Sensors Conference, IDGA (Institute for Defense and Government Advancement), October 26, 2005.
  • Invited Speaker, “Effects of Autonomy on Risk in Air and Space Systems,” Technological Risks session, 9th Annual German-American Frontiers of Engineering Meeting, sponsored by the National Academy, Murray Hill, NJ, 4-6 May 2006. 
Conference Proceedings:
  • D. Cossey, N. Abhyankar, E. Atkins, R. Brillhart, and D. Hunt, “Modal Survey of the ASTREX Test Article,” Proceedings of SPIE -- The International Society for Optical Engineering, vol. 1923, part 2, pp. 1409-1412, 1993.
  • E. M. Atkins, E. H. Durfee (co-advisor), and K. G. Shin (co-advisor, senior author), “Plan Development using Local Probabilistic Models,” Proceedings of the Twelfth Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence, pp. 49-56, August 1996. [Highly refereed Computer Science conference: 25-35% acceptance rate]
  • T. F. Abdelzaher, E. M. Atkins, and K. G. Shin, “QoS Negotiation in Real-Time Systems and Its Application to Automated Flight Control,” Real-time Technology and Applications Symposium (RTAS-97), pp. 228-238, June 1997. [Nominated for Best Conference Paper.]
  • C. B. McVey, E. M. Atkins, E. H. Durfee (co-advisor), and K. G. Shin (co- advisor, senior author), “Development of Iterative Scheduler to Planner
  • Feedback,” Proceedings of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-97), pp. 1267-1272, August 1997. [Highly refereed Computer Science conference: 15-25% acceptance rate]
  • E. M. Atkins, E. H. Durfee (co-advisor), and K. G. Shin (co-advisor, senior author), “Detecting and Reacting to Unplanned-for World States,” Proceedings of the Fourteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-97), pp. 571- 576, July 1997. [Highly refereed Computer Science conference: 20-30% acceptance rate]
  • E. M. Atkins, R. H. Miller, T. VanPelt, K. D. Shaw, W. B. Ribbens, P. D. Washabaugh, D. S. Bernstein, “Solus: An Autonomous Aircraft for Flight Control and Trajectory Planning Research,” Proceedings of the American Control Conference (ACC), vol. 2, pp. 689-693, June 1998.
  • E. M. Atkins, T. F. Abdelzaher, K. G. Shin (co-advisor, senior author), and E. H. Durfee (co-advisor), “Planning and Resource Allocation for Hard Real-time, Fault-Tolerant Plan Execution”, Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Autonomous Agents, pp. 244-251, Seattle, WA, May 1999.
  • E. M. Atkins, "Autonomous Hard Real-time Response in Safety-Critical Systems," Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics & Automation in Space: I-SAIRAS 2001, Canadian Space Agency, St.-Hubert, Quebec, Canada, June 2001.
  • J. A. Lennon and E. M. Atkins, "Color-based Vision Tracking for an Astronaut EVA Assist Vehicle," Proceedings of the SAE International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES), Orlando, FL, July 2001.
  • Y. Pennecot, E. M. Atkins, and R. M. Sanner, "Intelligent Spacecraft Formation Management and Path Planning," Proceedings of the AIAA Aerospace Sciences Conference, Reno, NV, January 2002 (AIAA 2002-1072).
  • I. Alonso-Portillo and E. M. Atkins, "Adaptive Trajectory Planning for Flight Management Systems," Proceedings of the AIAA Aerospace Sciences Conference, Reno, NV, January 2002 (AIAA 2002-1073).
  • E. M. Atkins and R. M. Sanner, "QoS Tradeoffs for Guidance, Navigation, and Control," Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, March 2002.
  • E. M. Atkins, J. A. Lennon, and R. S. Peasco, "Vision-based Following for Cooperative Astronaut-Robot Operations," Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, March 2002.
  • E. M. Atkins and Y. Pennecot, "Autonomous Satellite Formation Assembly and Reconfiguration with Gravity Fields," Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, March 2002.
  • G. Gopalan, M. Xue, E. Atkins, and F. Schmitz, “Longitudinal-Plane Simultaneous Non Interfering Approach Trajectory Design for Noise Minimization,” Proc. of the American Helicopter Society (AHS) 59th Annual Forum, May 2003.
  • H. Li, E. Atkins, E. Durfee (co-advisor), and K. Shin (co-advisor; senior author), “Resource Allocation for a Limited Real-Time Agent,” in Proc. of the Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS) Conference, July 2003.
  • M. Xue and E. M. Atkins, “Noise Sensitive Final Approach Trajectory Optimization for Runway-Independent Aircraft,” in Proc. of the AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, Austin, TX, August 2003.
  • E. M. Atkins, “Dynamic Waypoint Generation given Reduced Flight Performance,” in Proceedings of the AIAA Aerospace Sciences Conference, Reno, NV, January 2004.
  • D. Chavez Clemente and E. Atkins, “Optimization of Tetrahedral Satellite Formations,” Proc. AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, Providence, RI, August 2004.
  • M. Strube, R. Sanner, and E. Atkins, “Dynamic Flight Guidance Recalibration after Actuator Failure,” Proc. 1st AIAA Intelligent Systems Conference, Chicago, IL, September 2004.
  • J. Lennon and E. Atkins, “Optimal Path Planning with Behavior-Based Cost Definition,” Proc. 1st AIAA Intelligent Systems Conference, Chicago, IL, September 2004.
  • M. Xue and E. Atkins, “Three-Dimensional Segmented Trajectory Optimization for Runway-Independent Aircraft,” in Proc. AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, Reno, NV, January 2005.
  • W. Ren, R. Beard, and E. Atkins, “A Survey of Consensus Problems in Multi- Agent Coordination,” in Proc. American Control Conference (ACC), Seattle, WA, June 2005.
  • A. Hoskins and E. Atkins, “Spacecraft Formation Optimization with a Multi- Impulse Design,” in Proc. AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, San Francisco, CA, August 2005.
  • W. Ren and E. Atkins, “Nonlinear Trajectory Tracking for Fixed Wing UAVs via Backstepping and Parameter Adaptation,” in Proc. AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, San Francisco, CA, August 2005.
  • W. Ren and E. Atkins, “Second-order Consensus Protocols in Multiple Vehicle Systems with Local Interactions,” in Proc. AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, San Francisco, CA, August 2005.
  • W. Ren and E. Atkins, “Coordination of Multiple Micro-Air Vehicles Using Consensus Schemes,” in Proc. AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference, Crystal City, VA, Sept. 2005.
  • J. Smith, E. Valente, R. Eubank, and E. Atkins, “A Low-Cost Research Autopilot for System Identification,” in Proc. AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference, Crystal City, VA, Sept. 2005.
  • M. Naylor, N. Scott, E. Atkins, and S. Roderick, “Toward Autonomous Sampling and Servicing with the Ranger Dexterous Manipulator,” in Proc. AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference, Crystal City, VA, Sept. 2005.
  • T. Wasserman, J. Lennon, and E. Atkins, “Robust Vision-Based Astronaut Following for Planetary Exploration,” in Proc. AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference, Crystal City, VA, Sept. 2005.
  • E. Atkins and G. Moylan, "Blocks in Space: Intelligent Self-Assembly Using Optimal Control Trajectory Planning," in Proc. AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference, Crystal City, VA, Sept. 2005.
  • J. Lennon and E. Atkins, “Intelligent Weight Selection for Trajectory Optimization,” in Proc. AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference, Crystal City, VA, Sept. 2005.
  • A. Hoskins and E. Atkins, "Formation Attitude Optimization with a Multi- Impulse Design," in Proc. GSFC Flight Mechanics Symposium, Greenbelt, MD, Oct. 2005.
  • M. Xue and E. Atkins, “Terminal Area Trajectory Optimization using Simulated Annealing”, to appear in Proc. AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, Reno, NV, January 2006.
  • E. Atkins, G. Moylan, and A. Hoskins, “Space-Based Assembly with Symbolic and Continuous Planning Experts,” to appear in Proc. IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, March 2006.
  • E. M. Atkins, E. H. Durfee (co-advisor), and K. G. Shin (co-advisor; senior author), “Building a Plan with Real-Time Execution Guarantees,” AAAI-96 Workshop on Structural Issues in Planning and Temporal Reasoning, pp. 1-6, August 1996.
  • E. M. Atkins, E. H. Durfee, (co-advisor); K. G. Shin (co-advisor; senior author), “Buying Time for Resource-Bounded Planning,” AAAI-97 Workshop: Building Resource-Bounded Reasoning Systems Technical Report, pp. 7-11, July 1997.
  • E. M. Atkins, E. H. Durfee, (co-advisor); K. G. Shin (co-advisor; senior author), “Autonomous Flight with CIRCA-II,” Autonomous Agents-99 Workshop on Autonomy Control Software, May 1999.
  • H. Li, E. M. Atkins, E. H. Durfee, (co-advisor); K. G. Shin (co-advisor; senior author), “Resource Allocation for a Limited Real-time Agent Using a Temporal Probabilistic World Model,” Working Notes of the AAAI Spring Symposium on Real-time Autonomous Systems, pp. 47-55, March 2000.
  • E. M. Atkins, “Knowledge Representation for Real-time Plan Development,” AAAI-2000 Workshop on Representational Issues for Real-World Planning System, AAAI Technical Report WS-00-07, pp. 1-5, July 2000.
  • E. M. Atkins, “The Hybrid Planning-Scheduling System in CIRCA-II,” AAAI- 2000 Workshop on Constraints and AI Planning, AAAI Technical Report WS-00- 02, pp. 7-10, July 2000.
  • J. Lennon and E. Atkins, “A Rule-based Strategy for Astronaut Following Operations,” AAAI Spring Symposium on Human Interaction with Autonomous Systems in Complex Environments, March 2003.
  • A. Skotowski and E. Atkins, “Scheduling Actions with State-Dependent Resource Requirements,” AAAI Spring Symposium on Foundations and Applications of Spatio-Temporal Reasoning, March 2003.
  • E. M. Atkins, “Flight Plan Management with George Jetson as Pilot,” AAAI Spring Symposium on Interaction between Humans and Autonomous Systems over Extended Operation, March 2004.
  • J. Lennon and E. Atkins, “Making Decisions about Motion,” AAAI Fall Symposium on Cognitive Science and Robotics, October 2004.
  • E. Atkins and G. Moylan, “Blocks in Space: Intelligent Self-Assembly Using Optimal Control Trajectory Planning,” Working Notes of the Intl. Conf. on AI Planning Systems (ICAPS) Workshop on Plan Execution, June 2005.
  • M. Ransan and E. Atkins, “A Collaborative Model for Astronaut-Rover Exploration Teams,” AAAI-2006 Spring Symposium on Human-Robot Teams, March 2006.
  • A. Hoskins and E. Atkins, “Satellite Formation Design with a Multi-Objective Optimization Technique,” AIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference and Exhibit, Keystone, Colorado, August 2006. (AIAA-2006-6013)
  • C. McGhan, R. Besser, R. Sanner, and E. Atkins, “Semi-Autonomous Inspection with a Neutral Buoyancy Free-Flyer,” AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference and Exhibit, Keystone, Colorado, August 2006. (AIAA-2006-6800)
  • G. Moylan and E. Atkins, “Research Trends in Autonomous Space-based Planning and Scheduling,” International Workshop on Planning and Scheduling for Space, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, October 2006.