Aerospace Controls Laboratory

Welcome to ACL

We research topics related to autonomous systems and control design for aircraft, spacecraft, and ground vehicles. Theoretical research is pursued in areas such as:

  • Decision making under uncertainty
  • Path planning, activity, and task assignment
  • Estimation and navigation
  • Robust control, adaptive control, and model predictive control
  • Machine learning and reinforcement learning methods

Statement of Values

The ACL welcomes a diversity of opinions and thoughts; we recognize that different backgrounds bring new technical insights and social ideas that foster creativity and are critical to reaching our full potential as a group. The ACL has members of different ages, from different geographic areas, races, genders, religions and backgrounds, and we strive to create a supportive and friendly research environment independent of our differences. By doing so, we create new opportunities, work closely together as a group, and support each other in achieving technical excellence.

The members of the ACL demonstrate these values through activities such as providing feedback at the weekly lab group meetings, reading and editing each other’s papers prior to submission, helping with software and algorithmic issues, and aiding in performing experiments. These values are also evidenced by the support and mentorship of fellow lab members in the group. All group member are safe, and all inputs are valued. The ACL is also connected to different intersecting communities at MIT, including the department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the department of Electical Engineering and Computer Science, the School of Engineering, the greater robotics, controls, and aerospace research field, and more. Members of the ACL connect with each other regularly through formal and informal lab social events, and with the wider MIT community through involvement in cultural clubs, dance groups, outreach organizations and much more. The ACL’s achievements would not be possible without the diverse backgrounds and experiences of all of our members.

The ACL commits to maintaining and improving our inclusive lab culture through group participation in efforts like: producing high-quality, publicly available videos to expose others to key concepts and ideas in our research, mentoring and advising a diverse group of undergraduate researchers each year, participating in local STEM outreach events, and expanding our reach through virtual, interactive sessions to engage young students with STEM.

Recent News

ACL Work on Multi-agent Information Gathering Featured in MIT News

Link to MIT News article.

Learning-based Planning and Control: Opportunities and Challenges (Professor Jon How Caltech Talk)

ACL Work on Robustness to Adversarial Inputs in Reinforcement Learning Featured in MIT News and IEEE Spectrum

Link to MIT News article.

Link to IEEE Spectrum article.

Professor Jon How is Elected Member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2021

In recognition for “contributions to decision-making and control of intelligent autonomous aerospace vehicles,” Professor Jon How was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering in 2021, along with 105 others. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

ACL Students' Advice on Graduate School

YouTube playlist

These videos highlight graduate school as a parallel option to industry jobs after graduation. Current students answer some common questions about graduate school.

We especially hope this is beneficial for those without many peers in graduate school, and it could be an avenue toward increasing diversity in our community.

Professor Jon How Receives the IEEE CSS Distinguished Member Award in 2020

In recognition for “outstanding contributions to systems and control,” Professor Jon How received the IEEE Control Systems Society Distinguished Member Award in 2020, to be formally presented at the Conference on Decision and Control (CDC) in December 2020.