Santa Clara University


Chris Kitts

SCU students conduct on-orbit operations for the Sapphire microsatellite.

Prof. Christopher Kitts and collaborating faculty, staff and students in the Robotic Systems Laboratory have just completed work on a $540,000 National Science Foundation grant focused on developing a distributed command and control network for operating remote robotic vehicles and conducting experimental research in telerobotics.

A centerpiece of this network is a satellite operations system that includes communications stations in California, Texas, Hawaii and Missouri as well as a central mission control center that has been installed in the new Space Technology Center at the NASA Ames Research Park. This system is being used to control currently orbiting and future spacecraft developed by SCU and partners such as Stanford Univeristy, the University of Texas at Austin, Washington University in St. Louis, Kyushu University, and others. Other sponsors and collaborators include NASA, DARPA, NOAA, and the Lockheed-Martin Corporation. The system is also being used to provide experimental verification and validation opportunities for research investigations involving multi-satellite systems, automated reasoning, and internet-based teleoperation. Over the past three years, this program has resulted in more than 10 published or pending journal, conference and magazine articles as well as more than 10 student theses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition, the program has been leveraged by an additional $500,000 in research projects that make use of the operations network for experimental demonstrations.

Primary References:

Robotic Systems Laboratory:

Distributed Robotic Control Network:

C. Kitts, "Surf, Turf, and Above the Earth: An Aggressive Robotics Development Program for Integrative Undergraduate Education," IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, V 10, N 3, 2003.

C. Kitts, and M. Swartwout, "Beacon Monitoring: Reducing the Cost of Nominal Spacecraft Operations," In Jrnl of Reducing Space Mission Cost, V 1 N 4, 2002.

O. Petrovic, C. Kitts, R. Rasay, and M. MacKinnon, "NETROL: An Internet-Based Control Architecture for Robotic Teleoperation", Sub. IEEE Trans Ind Elec.

C. Kitts, N. Quinn, J. Ota, P. Stang, and B. Palmintier, "Development and Teleoperation of Robotic Vehicles," Proc. AIAA "Unmanned Unlimited" Systems, Technologies and Operations Conference, 2003.