The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | November 19

Robotics Institute Seminar, November 19
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

A Passivity Approach to Distributed Control: from Robots to Networks

John Wen

Department of Electrical, Computer, & Systems Engineering

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute




Time and Place

Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305)
Refreshments 3:15 pm
Talk 3:30 pm



Distributed control occurs in nature such as the collaborative load carrying in social insects and formation flying in flocking birds, and man-made systems such as congestion control in data networks, power distribution in power systems, and collaborative transport and assembly in team robots.  It is possible to achieve a common group objective without explicit coordination and communication between individual actions through indirect communications using feedback.  In this talk, we consider the stability, performance, and robustness of several distributed control examples: collaborative load carrying by multiple robots, network flow regulation, and CDMA power control.  The main tool that we use is the concept of passivity. Passivity is motivated by energy conservation or dissipation in physical systems and has long been used in the stability analysis and design of nonlinear feedback systems, including mechanical structures and electrical circuits.  I will review the passivity approach and then present its applications to distributed control.  I will also discuss the extension of passivity based control design to iterative learning control and receding horizon control applied to high performance motion control and the control of driftless nonholonomic systems.


Speaker Biography


John Ting-Yung Wen received his B.Eng. from McGill University in 1979, M.S. from University of Illinois in 1981, and Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1985, all in Electrical Engineering.  He worked pulp and paper plant control at Fisher Controls from 1981-1982.  From 1985-1988, he was a member of technical staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he worked on modeling and control for large space structures and space robots.  Since 1988, he has been with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he is currently a professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering.  He was an ASEE/NASA Summer Faculty Fellow in 1993, a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Senior Visiting Scientist in 1997, and has received eleven NASA Tech Brief Awards.  His research interest lies in modeling, control, and planning of dynamical systems with applications to vibration suppression, robot manipulation, biomedical systems, advanced material design, and network flow and power control.  Dr. Wen is a Fellow of IEEE.


Speaker Appointments

For appointments, please contact Stephanie Matvey.

Related Material

  • Presentation (pdf)


The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.