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Control and Navigation

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is used by over 500 million people in a breathtaking variety of applications and benefits. It's used in telecommunications, in cell phones, and in navigation of planes, boats, and cars. Its use has become so ubiquitous that most people would not realize its importance unless it failed. We are proud of the important role that Stanford has played in the development of the GPS and its applications. The GPS Lab at Stanford works with the Federal Aviation Agency, Navy, Air Force, NASA, and Coast Guard to pioneer systems that augment the GPS and Galileo. These augmentations broadcast differential corrections to improve accuracy, provide error bounds in real time, and mitigate radio frequency interference.

The GPS Lab has helped in the development of the Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS), a ground-based augmentation to GPS that provides a very precise navigation service for airports and surrounding areas. Researchers at Stanford have also been instrumental in the development of the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). Using WAAS, aircraft can access nearly 1,700 runways in poor weather conditions with minimums as low as 200 feet. It also supports millions of land and marine users.

The Aerospace Robotics Lab works to improve the performance of robots on land, in the sea, in the sky, and in space. It uses feedback control, integrated sensing systems, and task-level autonomy, validated with actual robots. Robots can reach places that humans can not reach, and do things that humans can not do. But the problems lie in navigating to exact spots, whether underwater or millions of miles away, while modeling the aerodynamics involved; and having the flexibility to achieve precise control of the robots' multiple manipulators despite uncertainty about the local conditions.

The Networked Systems and Control Lab has been developing robust control technologies for distributed systems where multiple units interact to coordinate global behavior, such as in formation flight. Another area of research is model reduction, the construction of simplified models for complex physical systems for simulation, analysis, and control design.