James Forbes

Associate Professor
Academic title(s): 

William Dawson Scholar

James Forbes
Contact Information

Macdonald Engineering Building, Room 150

Email address: 
james.richard.forbes [at] mcgill.ca

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


MECH 412: System Dynamics and Control (3 Credits)
MECH 600: Adv. Topics in Mech. Eng. 1 (4 Credits)

Research areas: 
Dynamics and Control
Selected publications: 
  • M. Cohen and J. R. Forbes, “Navigation and Control of Unconventional VTOL UAVs in Forward- Flight with Explicit Velocity Wind Estimation,” IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters," vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 1151-1158, 2020.
  • C. C. Cossette, A. Walsh, and J. R. Forbes, “The Complex-Step Derivative Approximation on Matrix Lie Groups," IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 906-913, 2020.
  • D. E. Zlotnik and J. R. Forbes, “Higher-Order Nonlinear Complementary Filtering on Lie Groups,” IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, vol. 64, no. 5, pp. 1772–1783, 2019.
  • D. E. Zlotnik and J. R. Forbes, “Gradient-Based Observer for Simultaneous Localization and Mapping,” IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, vol. 63, no. 12, pp. 4338 – 4344, 2018.
  • A. Walsh and J. R. Forbes, “Constrained Attitude Control on SO(3) via Semidefinite Programming,” AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, vol. 41, no. 11, pp. 2480–2485, 2018.
  • R. J. Caverly and J. R. Forbes, “Dynamic Modeling, Trajectory Optimization, and Control of a Flexible Kiteplane,” IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 1297–1306, 2017.
  • L. J. Bridgeman and J. R. Forbes, “The Extended Conic Sector Theorem,” IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, vol. 61, pp. 1931–1937, July 2016.
Current research: 

Navigation, Guidance, and Control

  • Nonlinear state estimation including batch and filtering methods for robot navigation
  • Nonlinear control including Lyapunov approaches, input-output stability, and gain-scheduled control
  • Controller synthesis via numerical optimization and Linear Matrix Inequalities (LMIs)
  • System identification
  • The application of mathematics, optimization, and machine learning tools to problems found in robotics

Robotics Applications

  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
  • Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), including on- and off-road vehicles, rail vehicles
  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV)
  • SLAM
  • Serial robots
  • Cable-actuated robots
  • Spherical robots (i.e., “rolling robots”)
Areas of interest: 

Primary Research Theme: Dynamics and Control

Research Lab/Group: Dynamics Estimation & Control of Aerospace & Robotics Systems

I am interested in navigation, guidance, and control (commonly referred to as “GNC”) techniques for robotic systems. I am interested in fundamental theoretical developments, as well as the application of new and existing theories to practical, real-world problems.


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