Furfaro Awarded $4.5M to Develop Hypersonic Guidance Systems
SIE professor Roberto Furfaro has been awarded $4.5 million to lead the development of improved guidance, navigation and control systems for autonomous vehicles operating at hypersonic speeds. The three-year proposed research is sponsored by the Joint Hypersonic Transition Office through the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics (UCAH).
Hypersonic speed – of Mach 5 or higher – is speed that exceeds five times the speed of sound. As the United States works to develop hypersonic technologies, research in the field has never been more important.
"Many conventional systems are designed using linear theory, and are not designed to fly or intercept at that speed," Furfaro said. "There are a lot of things happening in hypersonic flow that are so nonlinear that they are not fully understood, and that we need to characterize if we want to design systems that work under these conditions."
UArizona is home to the Arizona Research Center for Hypersonics, where researchers conduct simulations and wind tunnel tests to learn more about how vehicles behave in extreme environments. The artificial intelligence-powered guidance, control and navigation methods Furfaro and his team develop will act as the "brain" of hypersonic vehicles – including interceptors, which are high-speed, maneuverable vehicles designed for defense against enemy aircraft.
"This investment is a major win for our burgeoning hypersonic research program," said David W. Hahn, the Craig M. Berge Dean of the College of Engineering. "Roberto has a broad range of expertise in areas including space flight mechanics and machine learning, making him and his team exceptionally well qualified to lead this effort."