James Richard Forbes

James Forbes

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Aerospace Science and Engineering, University of Toronto
M.A.Sc. Aerospace Science and Engineering, University of Toronto
B.A.Sc. Mechanical Engineering, University of Waterloo

Macdonald Engineering Building, Rm 150 Map
External Website

514-398-7142 [office]

james.richard.forbes [at] mcgill.ca (Email)

Research Interests

Primary Research Theme: Dynamics and Control

I am interested in control and estimation techniques for mechanical, aerospace, and robotic systems. In particular, I am interested in vibration control, spacecraft attitude control, the control of (flexible) robotic manipulators, and mobile robot localization. I am interested in fundamental theoretical developments, as well as the application of new and existing control theories to practical, real-world problems. Synthesis of controllers, for example, robust yet optimal controllers, using numerical techniques is also of interest to me. My research is primarily motivated by (but not exclusively) aerospace problems; I seek to develop better control and estimation techniques thus enabling Earth science, astronomy, and the commercial development of the Canadian aerospace industry.

Current Research Projects

Control and Estimation

- Extensions and applications of input-output stability theory (the passivity, small gain, and conic sector theorems, overcoming passivity violations).
- Stability properties of gain-scheduled controllers and optimal gain-scheduling.
- Controller synthesis via numerical optimization and Linear Matrix Inequalities (LMIs).
- Linear time-varying systems and controller synthesis.
- Nonlinear state estimation (Extended Kalman Filter [EKF] and Sigma Point Filter [SPF] methods).

Control of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Robotic systems

- Gain-scheduled control of flexible robotic manipulators.
- Control of flexible robotic manipulators which have had their passive nature violated.
- Spacecraft attitude control using both magnetic and mechanical actuation.
- Mobile robot localization using EKF and SPF techniques.
- The dynamics of power-generating, wind-blown Martian "tumbleweed" rovers.

Most Significant Publications

  • J. R. Forbes, C. J. Damaren "A Hybrid Passivity and Finite Gain Stability Theorem: Stability and Control of Systems Possessing Passivity Violations", IET Control Theory and Applications, vol. 4, no. 9, pp. 1795 - 1806, 2010.
  • T.D. Barfoot, J. R. Forbes, P.T. Furgale "Pose Estimation Using Linearized Rotations and Quaternion Algebra", Acta Astronautica, vol. 68, pp. 101 - 112, January - February 2011.
  • J. R. Forbes, T.D. Barfoot, C. J. Damaren "Dynamic Modeling and Stability Analysis of a Power-Generating Tumbleweed Rover", Multibody System Dynamics, vol. 24, pp. 413 - 439, December 2010.
  • J. R. Forbes, C. J. Damaren "Design of Gain-Scheduled Strictly Positive Real Controllers Using Numerical Optimization for Flexible Robotic Systems", Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control, vol. 132, no. 3, May 2010.
  • J. R. Forbes, C. J. Damaren "Geometric Approach to Spacecraft Attitude Control Using Magnetic and Mechanical Actuation", Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 590-595, March - April 2010.
  • More publications


MECH 412 System Dynamics and Control 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

MECH 600 Adv. Topics in Mech. Eng. 1 4 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

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