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Patrick J. Martin, Ph.D. - VCU College of Engineering. Richmond, VA, US

Patrick J. Martin, Ph.D. Patrick J. Martin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering | VCU College of Engineering


Dr. Martin's research applies control theory and artificial intelligence to enable the safe deployment of distributed autonomous systems.






Amelia and the Machine



Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (4)

Robotics and Automation


Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence for Autonomous Systems

Cyber Physical Systems

Education (3)

Georgia Institute of Technology: Ph.D., Electrical and Computer Engineering 2010

University of Maryland: M.S., Electrical Engineering 2004

Hampden-Sydney College: B.S., Physics and Applied Mathematics 2002

Affiliations (3)

  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)
  • American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

Patents (1)

Secure computational workflows



Techniques are disclosed for providing a secure computational platform that facilitates collaboration of assets from different asset providers without exposure of the assets to threats. The assets may be in the form of tools, models, simulations, and other computational assets, which can be used, for example, to perform trade studies. The secure computational platform provides for integration of the assets in a workflow, while protecting the assets during construction and execution of the workflow. In some instances, each asset in the workflow is executed in an IT infrastructure of the asset provider to which the asset belongs.

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Research Grants (1)

Heterogeneous Runtime Monitoring for Detection and Assessment of Emerging Hazards for Increasingly Autonomous Urban Flight Vehicles


Urban Air Mobility (UAM) for passenger carrying operations promises to revolutionize urban transportation by potentially reducing congestion, enabling adaptation to changing transportation needs, and creating new market opportunities. The realization of trustworthy, safe and secure UAM operations will depend on three system-level functions: Monitoring, Assessment, and Mitigation. Our approach synthesizes model- and data-driven techniques to characterize real-time data streams as well as historical trends. We leverage Runtime Verification techniques using the TeSSla language combined with data driven neural network based monitors. Furthermore, the structure and synthesis of these hazard predictors is informed by hazard analysis techniques, e.g. STPA, to ensure proper causal chains.

Courses (2)

EGRE691 - Autonomous Cyber-physical Systems

In the near future, autonomous cyber-physical systems will be deployed into many facets of the global economy: from transportation to advanced manufacturing. This course introduces the architectures and algorithms that enable the development and deployment of autonomous cyber-physical systems. Students will develop systems that perceive and take action in the physical world using control-theoretic and machine learning techniques. This course reinforces theory with practical assignments that leverage software tools common in the autonomous system and machine learning communities. At the completion of this course, the student will be able to: - Explain and employ autonomous system architectures - Explain and implement deductive and inductive techniques for sensor processing, control, and decision making - Select, evaluate, and critique advanced concepts from the autonomous systems research literature - Design and develop an autonomous CPS prototype

EGRE254 - Digital Logic Design

An introduction to digital logic design with an emphasis on practical design techniques and circuit implementations. Topics include number representation in digital computers, Boolean algebra, theory of logic functions, mapping techniques and function minimization, design of combinational, clocked sequential and interactive digital circuits such as comparators, counters, pattern detectors, adders and subtractors. Asynchronous sequential circuit concepts are introduced. Students will use the above basic skills in the laboratory to design and fabricate digital logic circuits.

Selected Articles (4)

OpenCity: An Open Architecture Testbed for Smart Cities

2021 IEEE International Smart Cities Conference (ISC2)

2021 This paper presents an open architecture testbed for smart cities, called OpenCity, which is hosted at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). The OpenCity platform consists of data collection and processing units, database management, distributed performance management algorithms, and real-time data visualization. This smart city testbed aims to support various educational and research activities related to smart city development. The testbed provides a near-real-life platform to allow students to learn about the unique features of smart cities and explore supporting technologies. In addition, it allows researchers to develop, deploy, and validate new techniques, tools, and technologies to support future smart city developments. The OpenCity platform will support various ongoing important research directions in smart cities, including smart homes and buildings, urban mobility, smart grid, and water management. In addition, it will be extendable to include other potential applications and components as needed. The testbed will be validated by developing and deploying a management system that focuses on users’ experience and resource efficiency.

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Heterogeneous Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning for Unknown Environment Mapping

AAAI 2020 Fall Symposium

2020 Reinforcement learning in heterogeneous multi-agent scenarios is important for real-world applications but presents challenges beyond those seen in homogeneous settings and simple benchmarks. In this work, we present an actor-critic algorithm that allows a team of heterogeneous agents to learn decentralized control policies for covering an unknown environment. This task is of interest to national security and emergency response organizations that would like to enhance situational awareness in hazardous areas by deploying teams of unmanned aerial vehicles. To solve this multi-agent coverage path planning problem in unknown environments, we augment a multi-agent actor-critic architecture with a new state encoding structure and triplet learning loss to support heterogeneous agent learning. We developed a simulation environment that includes real-world environmental factors such as turbulence, delayed communication, and agent loss, to train teams of agents as well as probe their robustness and flexibility to such disturbances.

PhysiCloud: A cloud-computing framework for programming cyber-physical systems

IEEE Conference on Control Applications (CCA)

2014 This paper presents a cloud-computing inspired framework that facilitates the programming of a deployed cyber-physical system. This framework, PhysiCloud, uses a novel combination of abstractions that hide the implementation details of the underlying cyber-physical system. Additionally, the framework is designed to operate on low-power, mobile systems with resiliency to network failures. Using this system, a controls application developer can focus on their algorithm development and its information dependencies, rather than issues of low level scheduling and communication.

Hybrid Systems Tools for Compiling Controllers for Cyber-Physical Systems

Journal of Discrete Event Dynamical Systems

2012 In this paper, we consider the problem of going from high-level specificationsof complex control tasks for cyber-physical systems to their actual implementation and execution on physical devices. This transition between abstraction levels inevitably results in a specification-to-execution gap, and we discuss two sources for this gap; namely model based and constraint based. For both of these two types of sources,we show how hybrid control techniques provide the tools needed to compile high-level control programs in such a way that the specification-to-execution gap is removed. The solutions involve introducing new control modes into nominal strings of control modes as well as adjusting the control modes themselves.