A New Breed of Vehicle Simulation
2019-07-23, 14:30–15:00, Elm B

When you design an aircraft or spacecraft, it generally has to work the first time or the consequences are fiery destruction. You simulate a lot. Julia enables not merely a flexible and fast way to write a custom simulation, but in fact an entirely new and powerful breed of simulation architecture.

We’ll see how Julia’s combination of mathy notation, built-in numerical tools, compilation, and metaprogramming opens up new possibilities for creating a simulation environment fit for aircraft, spacecraft, autonomous underwater vehicles, and the like. We’ll examine the special requirements for these types of applications, why elegant solutions have historically been out of reach, and how that picture is beginning to change. Finally, we’ll see how one such simulation environment in Julia has become the backbone of flight algorithm development and testing for a large fleet of autonomous aircraft that deliver life-saving medical supplies in Rwanda and Ghana.

Tucker has been creating simulations and flight algorithms for aircraft and spacecraft for thirteen years and is currently the guidance, navigation, control, and simulation lead at Zipline International, whose autonomous aircraft deliver blood in emergencies in Rwanda. He loves sharing the subject with others; his online article is now the first result in Google to the query: “How do simulations work?” Throughout his career, he’s built up a vision for a great simulation platform and was thrilled when he found Julia, which is the first language that allows him to bring those ideas together cleanly. He’ll be interested in finding the best espresso in Baltimore.