Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory


The long-term goal of this lab is to improve our understanding of collective behavior in biological groups and to apply this understanding to synthesize bio-inspired motion-coordination algorithms for autonomous robots. Ongoing research in decentralized feedback control of robotic sensor networks has applications in environmental monitoring, hurricane forecasting, and physical oceanography. Research in 3D tracking of animal groups is providing new insights into schooling behavior in fish and swarming behavior in mosquitoes.

Research Focus

  • Nonlinear dynamics and control: Cooperative control of autonomous robots
  • Robotic sensor networks: Optimal and adaptive sampling of spatiotemporal processes
  • Biocomplexity: Quantitative modeling of animal groups and grouping behavior

Shared facilities

The CDCL provides bench-top workspace and computer facilities to undergraduate and graduate students under the PI's supervision. The lab has two standing-height workbenches, two sitting-heigh workbenches, two shared desktops, and a four-foot wide stainless steel sink for water-testing submarine kits prior to deployment in the NBRF (see below). The computer facilities include a Linux workstation, an iMac workstation equipped with an NVIDIA GPU for CUDA simulation development, and four laptop computers.

The Aquatic Bioacoustics Laboratory facilities include a 300 gal fish tank with temperature and environmental control, light microscopy for fluorescence and Nomarski optics, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, histology and immunocytochemistry, behavioral analysis and psychophysics, electrophysiology (extracellular, intracellular, ABR), and anechoic and sound proof rooms.

The Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility is one of two currently operating neutral buoyancy tanks in the US. It is the only one located on a college campus and the only one dedicated to basic research. The tank is 50 feet across, 25 feet deep, and holds 367,000 gallons of water (about the same as three municipal swimming pools). The NBRF also has complete SCUBA diver support facilities, including two locker rooms, air compressors for filling SCUBA bottles, and an underwater communications system. The NBRF is equipped with six underwater video cameras and supporting digital-image capturing equipment.

Contact Information

Derek Paley
Director, Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory
Department of Aerospace Engineering
301-405-5757 |