Nic Fischer, PhD

Controls / Systems Engineer

I specialize in hardware/software integration, robotic autonomy and control of real world systems. I have a passion for scalable platforms and efficient automation.

  • San Francisco, CA
  • nic.r.fischer@gmail.com
  • Nonlinear Control
    UAVs
    Autonomy
    Systems Integration
    Algorithmic Design
    Robotics

Employment

  • Principal EngineerFeb 2016 - Present

    area17

    Multi-disciplinary technical lead developing navigation and autonomy solutions for indoor robotics. Developed and executed technology roadmap to transition research-based SRI hardware and software into product MVPs. Designed, manufactured and integrated first several prototype robotic hardware products. Designed and implemented onboard application communication layer utilizing off-the-shelf technologies. Designed and implemented real-time path planning, control and behavioral autonomy software layers for aerial and ground robotic vehicles. Implemented sensor/actuator drivers for common hardware interfaces. Designed and implemented web-based front end for real-time communication with hardware. Developed end-to-end SITL robotic simulation tools. Systems architecture for next generation vehicles and vehicle capabilities. Requirements, sprint planning, customer contracts and other various systems engineering/PM responsibilities for a team of 7. Technical contributions to VC meetings/fundraising resulting in successful $2M seed round

  • Control Systems EngineerFeb 2015 - Jan 2016

    PreNav

    Robotic systems architecture and design, GNC/autopilot development including fault- tolerant control methods & RC-free operation, and real-time planning of multi-rotor UAV platforms for autonomous infrastructure inspection. Efforts focus on localization via a strategic combination of inertial, laser and vision sensors and nonlinear control strategies to achieve centimeter accuracy in GNS-denied environments using both custom flight software and customized PX4 stack. Additional contributions in execution autonomy, failure state detection and robustness, mechanical design, systems-level integration and cross-functional project management.

  • Senior Engineer (Consultant)Nov 2014 - Mar 2015

    AeroCine

    Control architecture, electrical design and systems integration for multi-rotor mounted 3-axis gimbal. Design, fabrication and integration for X12 multi-rotor platform including mechanical design, component/material selection, mechanism design, control architecture, path planning, system autonomy and health monitoring. Vehicle will be the first heavy lift multi-rotor to carry a fully stabilized ARRI Alexa camera.

  • Senior R&D EngineerJune 2014 - Dec 2014

    Sols Systems

    Developed fully-automated build server for generation of parametric solid models of 3d printed custom orthotics using python-based geometry libraries and web-based interface tools / api (flask, redis, celery); scaled CAD production from 100 parts/day to 10,000 parts/day. Algorithm-based design practices for custom manufacturing, FEA / structural analysis/experimentation of 3d-printed materials, mechanism design and fabrication of apparatus for testing material stress and fatigue of 3d printed materials, contributions to computer vision applications using homography-based reconstruction, front end design of internal administrative tools (jquery, php, bootstrap, AWS).

  • Systems Engineer, Technical LeadDec 2012 - June 2014

    Bluefin Robotics

    Lead control systems engineer, developed dynamic system models for simulation studies for Bluefin autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), developed and implemented control system architecture for several classes of underwater vehicles, provided sensor integration/ fusion and INS filter design, completed in-water control acceptance testing and validation, assisted with autonomy / path planning capabilities, provided computational fluid dynamics analysis for hydrodynamic recommendations to mechanical and systems-level design decisions, was the technical lead for pipeline tracking system integration (requirements, scheduling, cost, interface documentation, traceability) and technical lead systems engineer for business development proposals (including federal government bidding) for unmanned surface vehicles (USV) and other robotic marine platforms.

  • Graduate ResearcherMay 2007 - Dec 2012

    University of Florida | Nonlinear Controls and Robotics Group

    Developed Lyapunov-based control techniques for a wide range of nonlinear systems. Research efforts combined adaptive techniques with robust methods to compensate for system uncertainties and unmodeled disturbances. Research focused on time-delayed nonlinear systems and systems with actuation saturation constraints. Specific projects included:
    - Uncertain Euler-Lagrange systems with time-delays (state and/or input delays)
    - Continuous saturated control designs
    - Differential inclusions and control design utilizing nonsmooth analysis
    - Controllers for quad-rotor based autonomous systems (UAVs)
    - Controllers for autonomous underwater vehicles, robotic manipulators, quad-rotor UAVs

  • Mechanical Engineering InternMay 2006 - Aug 2006

    Honeywell

    Worked closely with a mechanical engineering team to design and maintain guidance and navigation applications for military vehicles. Investigated design changes for failures in hermetically sealed guidance housings. Researched material choices for electronic packaging in hostile environments. Provided insight to design choices for F-35 guidance package. Completed thermal, force, stress, vibration, material, and tolerance analysis and calculation for multiple guidance packaging solutions for flight and aerospace vehicle contracts.

  • IT InternMay 2006 - Aug 2006

    Raymond James Financial

    Designed/Programmed/Installed custom workspaces for broker stock trading software throughout company. Assisted clients with general information technology support. Walked clients through VPN installation and use. Provided general Microsoft Windows troubleshooting via phone and remote management support.

Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy2010 - 2012

    University of Florida

    Focus: Mechanical Engineering: Dynamics, Systems and Control

    Dissertation: "Lyapunov-Based Control of Saturated and Time-Delayed Nonlinear Systems"

  • Master of Science2008 - 2010

    University of Florida

    Focus: Mechanical Engineering: Dynamics, Systems and Control

  • Bachelor of Science2004 - 2008

    University of Florida

    Major: Mechanical Engineering

    Honors: Magna cum Laude

    Thesis: "Assessment of Image-Based Target Tracking Methods"

Full Resume

Download resume in PDF format

Software Competency

  • Solidworks

  • Rhino 3D

  • ANSYS FEA/CFD

  • Linux Dev

  • MacOS Dev

  • STM32F Dev

  • Windows Development

Programming Skills

  • Python

  • C/C++

  • HTML/CSS

  • Javascript

  • Matlab/Simulink

  • Arduino

  • PHP

  • Go

Algorithm Experience

  • Control Theory

  • Nonlinear Control

  • Computer Vision

  • Sensor Fusion

  • Path Planning

  • Neural Networks

  • Machine Learning

  • Autonomy / Behaviors

Books

  • P. Patre, N. Fischer, R. Kamalapurkar, W. MacKunis, W. E. Dixon, RISE-Based Control of Nonlinear Systems, Birkhauser: Boston, under contract (2018).

Book Chapters

  • R. Downey, R. Kamalapurkar, N. Fischer, and W. E. Dixon “Compensating for Fatigue-Induced Time-Varying Delayed Muscle Response in Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Control,” in Recent Results on Nonlinear Delay Control Systems: In honor of Miroslav Krstic, Edited by I. Karafyllis, M. Malisoff, F. Mazenc, P. Pepe, Springer, pp. 143-161, 2015.
  • A. Dani, Z. Kan, N. Fischer, W. E. Dixon, "Real-time Structure and Motion Estimation in Dynamic Scenes Using a Single Camera" in Robotic Vision: Technologies for Machine Learning and Vision Applications, Edited by J. Garcia-Rodriguez and M. C. Quevedo, IGI Global Publication, pp. 173-191, 2012.

Journal

  • R. Kamalapurkar, N. Fischer, S. Obuz, W. E. Dixon, "Time-Varying Input and State Delay Compensation for Uncertain Nonlinear Systems," Transactions on Automatic Control, Vol. 61, No. 3, pp. 834-839 (2016).
  • N. Fischer, R. Kamalapurkar, W. E. Dixon, "LaSalle-Yoshizawa Corollary for Nonsmooth Systems," IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, Vol. 58, No. 9, pp.2333-2338 (2013).
  • N. Fischer, A. P. Dani, N. Sharma, W.E. Dixon, "Saturated Control of an Uncertain Euler-Lagrange System with Input Delay," Automatica, Vol. 49, No. 6, pp. 1741–1747 (2013).
  • N. Fischer, Z. Kan, W.E. Dixon, "Saturated RISE Feedback Control for a Class of Second-Order Nonlinear Systems," IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, Vol. 59, No. 4., pp. 1094-1099 (2014).
  • A. P. Dani, Z. Kan, N. Fischer, W. E. Dixon, "Observer for a Class of Nonlinear Systems with Application to Structure and Motion Estimation," Automatica, under review.
  • N. Fischer, D. Hughes, P. Walters, E. M. Schwartz, W. E. Dixon, "RISE-based Control of an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle," IEEE Transactions on Robotics, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 845-852 (2014).
  • A. P. Dani, N. Fischer, and W. E. Dixon, "Single Camera Structure and Motion Estimation," IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, vol. 57, No. 1, pp. 241-246, (2012).
  • A. P. Dani, N. Fischer, Z. Kan, and W. E. Dixon, "Globally Exponentially Convergent Robust Observer for Vision-based Range Estimation," Mechatronics, Special Issue on Visual Servoing, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 381-389 (2012).

Conference

  • N. Fischer, S. Biddlestone, “Advances in sonar-based vertical plane collision avoidance and terrain tracking for AUVs,” Underwater Intervention, New Orleans, LA, 2013.
  • H. T. Dinh, N. Fischer, R. Kamalapurkar, W. E. Dixon, "Output Feedback Control for Uncertain Nonlinear Systems with Slowly Varying Input Delay," American Control Conference, Washington, DC, 2012, pp. 1748-1753.
  • N. Fischer, R. Kamalapurkar, W. E. Dixon, "RISE-Based Control of an Uncertain Nonlinear System With Time-Varying State Delays," Conference on Decision and Control, Maui, HI, 2012, pp. 3502-3507.
  • N. Fischer, Z. Kan, W. E. Dixon, "Saturated RISE Feedback Control for Euler-Lagrange Systems," American Control Conference, Ontario, CA, 2012, pp 244-249.
  • N. Fischer, R. Kamalapurkar, N. Fitz-Coy, W. E. Dixon, "Lyapunov-Based Control of an Uncertain Euler-Lagrange System with Time-Varying Input Delay," American Control Conference, Ontario, CA, 2012, pp. 3919-3924 (Invited Paper, Best In Session Award).
  • N. Fischer, A. Dani, N. Sharma, W.E. Dixon, "Saturated Control of an Uncertain Euler-Lagrange System with Input Delay," IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, Orlando, FL, 2011.
  • Dani, Z. Kan, N. Fischer, W. E. Dixon, "Estimating Structure of a Moving Object using a Moving Camera: An Unknown Input Observer Approach," IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, 2011.
  • N. Fischer, S. Bhasin, and W. E. Dixon, "Nonlinear Control of an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle: A RISE-Based Approach," American Control Conference, San Francisco, CA, 2011, pp. 3972-3977.
  • D. Hughes, N. Fischer, P. Walters, E. M. Schwartz, “SubjuGator 7: A Modular, Fault-Tolerant Autonomous Underwater Vehicle,” Florida Conference on Recent Advances in Robotics, Gainesville, FL, 2011.
  • A. P. Dani, N. Fischer, Z. Kan, and W. E. Dixon, "Nonlinear Observer for Structure Estimation using a Paracatadioptric Camera," American Control Conference, Baltimore, MD, 2010, pp. 3487-3492.
  • P. Walters, D. Hughes, T. P. Feeney, N. Fischer, E. M. Schwartz, “SubjuGator 2010”, Florida Conference on Recent Advances in Robotics,” Jacksonville, FL, 2010.
  • A. P. Dani, Z. Kan, N. Fischer, and W. E. Dixon, "Structure and Motion Estimation of a Moving Object Using a Moving Camera," American Control Conference, Baltimore, MD, 2010, pp. 6962-6967.

Undergraduate Thesis

  • N. Fischer, "Assessment of Image-Based Target Tracking Methods," University of Florida, Magna Cum Laude, 2008.

Presentations

  • "Modular Survey Platforms for Effective Offshore Operations", Subsea Survey, Galveston, TX, Nov. 2013.
  • "Control Theory and Application to Autonomous Underwater Vehicles," Bluefin Robotics, May 2013.
  • "RISE-Based Control of an Uncertain Nonlinear System With Time-Varying State Delays," IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, Dec. 2012.
  • "Lyapunov-Based Control Theory and Applications: Robust Methods for Uncertain Nonlinear Systems," Institute for Defense Analysis, July 2012.
  • "Saturated RISE Feedback Control for Euler-Lagrange Systems," American Control Conference, June 2012 (Best Session Presentation Award).
  • "Lyapunov-Based Control of an Uncertain Euler-Lagrange System with Time-Varying Input Delay," American Control Conference, June 2012.
  • "Lyapunov-Based Control of Saturated and Time-Delayed Nonlinear Systems", Doctorate proposal, April 2012.
  • "Saturated Control of an Uncertain Euler-Lagrange System with Input Delay," IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, Dec. 2011.
  • "Nonlinear Control of an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle: A RISE-Based Approach," American Control Conference, July 2010.
  • "Image-based Nonlinear Estimation Methods for Structure and Motion," NSF Research Day, University of Florida, poster presentation (Best Poster Prize), 2010.
  • "Vision-Based Control and Estimation," Undergraduate Research Symposium, University of Florida, poster presentation (3rd place), 2008.

Contact info

  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Email: nic.r.fischer@gmail.com