Robotic Systems Laboratory

formerly known as the Santa Clara Remote and Extreme Environments Mechanisms (SCREEM) Laboratory

Robots Expeditions & Operations Robotic Control Network Technology
Specializing in the design, control, and teleoperation of highly capable robotic systems for scientific discovery, technology validation, and engineering education.
SeaWASP Navigation System Upgrade

A group of Masters students, led by Ketan Rasal and Thomas Adamek, are currently upgrading the SeaWASP SWATH boat for routine bathymetric mapping operations for NOAA, MBARI, USGS, and Santa Clara County.  Upgrades include an improved autonav system (with feed-forward disturbance rejection, canard-based pitch/roll compensation, and mission planning tools) as well as a sensor drop system allowing CTD (and other) packages to be deployed at various depths during missions.

SeaWASP during its first science deployment in Lake Tahoe

Satellite Mission Control is Busy!

RSL students also continue to conduct mission operations for O/OREOS, a biological test spacecraft developed by scientists and engineers at NASA Ames Research Center.  O/OREOS was launched November 19 on a Minotaur IV launch vehicle from Kodiak Alaska.  O/OREOS is a triple cube spacecraft about the size of a loaf of bread, and it is performing two tests during its 1-year mission.  The first experiment examines how microorganisms survive and adapt to the stresses of space; the other is monitoring the stability of organic molecules in space.  O/OREOS includes a HAM radio beacon so that amateur radio operators throughout the world can collect data on satellite performance. Updates are on the O/OREOS Mission Dashboard.
NASA O/OREOS spacecraft
NASA NanoSail-DII spacecraft
The two UT Austin FASTRAC spacecraft, with SCU flight computers
The SCU Mission Control Center, from which students control a number of NASA and student-developed spacecraft
The NASA NanoSail-DII spacecraft was launched on the same rocket, and it was successfully ejected from its mothership (finally) - FASTSat- in mid-January.  RSL students tracked the satellite from Jan 19, when NASA discovered the ejection, until Jan 21, when the satellite's batteries ran out of power. The team is now tracking the de-orbit of the spacecraft, which should take place within 2-3 months (as opposed to the 25 years expected for O/OREOS de-orbit.  For updates, see the NanoSail Mission Dashboard.

Also on the Nov 19 launch were the two FASTRAC spacecraft. FASTRAC was developed by students at UT Austin, with students at Santa Clara University supplying the on-board distributed computing system for each satellite.  The FASTRAC satellites are demonstrating enabling technologies for satellite formation flying, and they are sponsored by the US Air Force University NanoSatellite Program.  

In performing satellite mission operations, RSL students use a network of student developed communication stations which are installed on the SCU campus as well as at other locations throughout the United States and in El Salvador. RSL has performed similar mission control functions for the NASA GeneSat-1 satellite (launched Dec 2006, deorbited Aug 2010) and PharmaSat spacecraft (launched May 2009, still in orbit). Students are formally trained and certified to be a part of the NASA mission control team as part of an academic course.  

KEEN Collaborative Projects Workshop


Robotics II HW & Trajectory Example


Graduate Thesis Archive


O/OREOS Mission Dashboard

NanoSail Mission Dashboard



May 2011 - Lake Tahoe

We will be working with scientists from USGS, UN Reno, and UC Davis and elsewhere to perform several studies on Emerald Bay geology as well as invasive species in the Lake.

Marine systems to be used include the Triton and Nautilus ROVs, the SeaWASP bathymetric mapping boat, and the robo-kayak cluster.

Stay Tuned!


Spring 2011 Courses

MECH 142 - Control Systems Analysis & Design (2 Sections, Kitts). T/TH 8 & 9:55 am
ENGR 180/181 Marine Operations (Mahacek & Kitts)

MECH 338 - Robotics II (Hemati & Kitts). W 7-9 pm


RSL In The News

Graduate Student Progress - Congratulations to Thomas Adamek (ME, Vincent Howard (ME), and Michael Meserve (EE)  for completing their Masters theses on multi-robot control.

Grants - RSL students are involved in more than $3 million dollars of active grants from NASA, DoD, etc. in areas ranging from multi-robot control to satellite tele-control. 

Publications - Students Ignacio Mas and Robert Lee are co-authors of a new book chapter with Dr. Kitts on nonlinear model-based control of multi-robot systems.  Dr. Kitts also has a new journal publication out in Current on the the RSL marine robotics program.  

A variety of new papers have been submitted to 2011 conferences such as the ASME ISPS Conference (3 papers accepted, in June on the SCU campus), the AIAA Conference on Small Satellites (2 papers accepted, August, Logan Utah),  IROS (2 papers submitted, in Sept in San Francisco), and Oceans (2 papers to be submitted, in Honolulu in Sept).  New journal papers are also currently in review for the IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics and the IEEE Aerospace Systems Magazine.