Director of Control, Vision and Robotics (CVR) Research Group


Sabanci University

Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences

Orhanlı Tuzla 34956 İstanbul TURKEY

E-mail: munel@sabanciuniv.edu

Phone: +90-216-483 9549

Fax: +90-216-483 9550



Mustafa Ünel received his B.S. in EE and M.S. in Systems and Control, both from Bogazici University in 1994 and 1996. He received a second M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics and his Ph.D. in Electrical Sciences and Computer Engineering from Brown University in 1998 and 1999, respectively. After his PhD, he held postdoctoral positions at Brown and Yale Universities from 1999 to 2001. He then returned to Turkey and joined the Department of Computer Engineering at Gebze Institute of Technology as an Assistant Professor in 2001. During 2001-2004, he taught several undergraduate and graduate courses in mathematics, vision, control, robotics and graphics at several state and private universities including Bogazici, Sabanci and Yeditepe Universities. In September 2004, he joined the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences at Sabanci University as a full-time faculty member, and he was affiliated with the Mechatronics Engineering. Dr. Unel became an Associate Professor in 2005 and a Full Professor in 2011.


Dr. Ünel's primary research interests are in computational vision, control and robotics. In vision area, he is interested in 2D/3D shape representation, algebraic and geometric methods for object recognition, motion and structure estimation, image stitching and mosaicing, and multi camera surveillance systems. In control area, he is interested in modeling, estimation and control of linear and nonlinear multivariable systems. In robotics area, he is interested in robot vision, visual servoing, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), group coordination and cooperative control of multiple autonomous robots (land, aerial and underwater), visual and force feedback strategies in microsystems, and bilateral teleoperation. He has been involved in several research projects in various capacities and he has supervised 29 graduate students in these fields. He is a member of IEEE and Advisory Board of TUBITAK EEEAG.



*      Ph.D. in Electrical Sciences and Computer Engineering, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA, 1999

Advisor: Prof. Bill Wolovich

*      M.S. in Applied Mathematics, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA, 1998

*      M.S. in Systems and Control Engineering, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, 1996

Advisors: Prof. Kemal Ciliz and Prof. Yorgo Istefanopulos

*      B.S. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey 1994


Work Experience

*      Sabanci University, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences

o   Professor, 2011- …

o   Associate Professor, 2005 - 2011

o   Assistant Professor, 2004 - 2005


*      Gebze Institute of Technology, Department of Computer Engineering

o   Assistant Professor, 2001 - 2004


*      Yale University, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

o   Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Computational Vision and Control, New Haven, CT, USA, 1999 - 2001


*      Brown University, Department of Electrical Engineering

o   Postdoctoral Research Associate, Laboratory for Engineering Man-Machine Systems, Providence, RI, USA, 1999 - 2001


Research Interests


My research has focused on the theory and applications of algebraic, geometric and probabilistic techniques to the broad range of problems in vision, control and robotics. Vision and control are the two recurrent themes in my investigations, and I am very much interested in the unification of these disciplines in the interdisciplinary field of robotics. Some particulars of my research are highlighted below.


*      Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV): There have been significant advances in the development of flexible, small and cheap autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles in recent years. In 2007, I initiated a new research program on UAVs in the context of a TUBITAK (Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) funded project. The project consisted of aerodynamic and mechanical design, composite prototyping and electronic control systems design for autonomous flight. We designed and prototyped a new UAV (SUAVI: Sabanci University Unmanned Aerial VehIcle) which is capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) like a helicopter and flying horizontally like an airplane. By combining low-cost inertial sensor information with the high level GPS and camera information, SUAVI can hover at a point in the air approximately half an hour and can follow certain trajectories in semi or full autonomous flight modes. It can fly both indoors and outdoors. In indoor flights, SUAVI uses visual feedback to hover and navigate. It carries wireless cameras for surveillance. The work involved a cross-disciplinary blend of ideas drawn from mechanics, aerodynamics, electronics, automatic control and computer vision. Current research efforts include design and development of novel aerial platforms that can perform aggressive maneuvers, group coordination and cooperative control of multiple UAVs, and development of real-time image mosaicing algorithms for UAVs.


*      Developing Wind Energy Systems: A project funded by Energy Ministry of Turkey and TUBITAK to develop national wind energy systems. Project officially started in July 2011. We have been designing, developing, prototyping and testing novel turbine systems. I’m the leader of the System Modeling Group. We have modeled the whole turbine system including aerodynamic, mechanical and electrical subsystems both in S4WT and MATLAB, and developed control techniques to simulate the behavior of the system under various scenarios.


*      Bilateral Control of Teleoperators: In a joint TUBITAK/NSF international project, we developed observer based time delay compensation techniques for stable and transparent bilateral teleoperation. Using the internet as the medium of communication, we achieved successful bilateral teleoperation results in spite of variable network delays. Experiments were performed on a pair of pantograph robots that were designed and developed in our robotics lab.


*      Visual Servoing: Visual servoing refers to the closed-loop control of robotic systems using visual feedback. We have been developing visual servoing algorithms for various robotic platforms such as the Mitsubishi PA10 robotic arm, a group of mobile robots, a direct drive SCARA robot, a microassembly workstation and a biped humanoid robot. In our visual servo control investigations, in addition to the more classical visual features, we introduced novel visual features such as “bitangent lines” and “algebraic curve features” that can be used in visual control laws. In the application of visual servoing to micromanipulation, we developed some novel estimation and control techniques based on visual feedback to characterize the mechanical behavior of the micro structures and reconstruct the interaction forces.


*      Motion and Structure Estimation: Motion and structure estimation is a fundamental problem in machine vision and there is a significant amount of work dedicated to this important problem. We developed motion estimation algorithms that utilize Sliding Mode Observers (SMO). We also developed some novel dynamic models and estimation techniques for studying curve motion. Point and line correspondence problems are well known in vision and robotics, but little is known about curve correspondence, and this work would perhaps initiate a work on curve correspondence as well.


*      Group Coordination and Cooperative Control of Autonomous Robots: Autonomous multi agent systems have attracted the interest of many research groups throughout the world in the last decade. We developed a new mass-spring-damper model to describe interactions between the robots and introduced adaptive springs that could be relaxed in various operation modes. Collisions were avoided by constructing a virtual shell around each robot. Current research efforts include but not limited to the group coordination and cooperative control of heterogenous robots such as UAVs and UGVs.


*      2D/3D Shape Modeling and Invariant Object Recognition: Shape modeling and object recognition are important problems in many disciplines including vision, pattern recognition, graphics, CAD/CAM and robotics. We developed a new surface fitting algorithm that utilizes ridge regression regularization to fit range data by high degree algebraic surfaces with superior stability and robustness properties.  We also developed new 3D object recognition algorithms that employ geometric invariants of 3D algebraic surfaces. In the context of 2D shape modeling and recognition, we developed a new method for computing moments of elliptic Fourier descriptors.




1.      “National Wind Energy Systems Project: Design, Development and Prototype Testing of Novel Turbine Systems,” Agency: Energy Ministry of Turkey and TUBITAK, Project No. 110G010, 2011-2013, Role: Leader of the System Modeling Group


2.      “Design, Development, Prototyping and Testing of Ultra High Temperature Actuators for Gas Turbine and Aircraft Engine Active Clearance Control,” Agency: ATARD Defense & Aerospace Research and Development Inc., Project No. EACF10-729, 2010-2012, Role: Co-PI


3.      “Sabanci University Nanotechnology Research and Application Center (SU-NAC),” Agency: DPT (State Planning Organization) and Sabanci Foundation, 2009-2013, Role: Researcher


4.      “Mechanical Design, Prototyping and Flight Control of an Unmanned Autonomous Aerial Vehicle,” Agency: TUBITAK-107M179, 01.10.2007-30.09.2010, Role: PI


5.      “Bilateral Control Systems with Time Delay Compensation,” Agency: TUBITAK/NSF International Project-106M533, 15.08.2008-15.08.2010, Role: PI


6.      “Novel Approaches in Audio-Visual Speech Recognition,” Agency: TUBITAK-107E015, 01.10.2007-30.09.2010, Role: Researcher


7.      “Integrated Visual Servoing and Force Approach to Micro-Object Manipulation,” Sabanci University Internal Grant- IACF06-00417, 01.10.2006-30.09.2008, Role: PI


8.      “Design, Construction and Control of Biped Humanoid Robot,” Agency: TUBITAK-106E040, 01.07.2007-30.06.2009, Role: Researcher


9.      “Open Structure Microassembly Workstation,” Agency: DPT/GYTE-EACF05-00268, 01.01.2005-31.12.2007, Role: Researcher


10.  “Reverse Engineering and Modeling of Superalloy Gas Turbine Blades,” Agency: TUBITAK-MAM (TUBITAK Marmara Research Center), EACF04-00269, 01.11.2004-30.04.2006, Role: Co-PI.


11.  “Automatic Recognition of Hand Written Texts and Signatures,” Gebze Institute of Technology Internal Grant: BAP-2003A23, 2003-2004, Role: PI


12.  “Coordinated Motion of Natural and Man-Made Groups,” Agency: NSF, Grant No. 9980058, 1999-2001, Yale University, Role: Postdoctoral Researcher


13.  “Reactive Switching Strategies for the Control of Uninhabited Air Vehicles,” Agency: DARPA-SEC project, 1999-2001, Yale University, Role: Postdoctoral Researcher


14.  “New Algebraic Methods for Simplifying the Design and Measurement of Sculptured Shapes,” Agency: NSF, Grant No. 9820804, 1999-2001, Brown University, Role: Postdoctoral Researcher


15.  “A New Implicit Polynomial Technology for Advanced Manufacturing,” Agency: NSF International Grant, Grant No. 9731598, 1998-2001, Brown University, Role: Researcher




Undergraduate Courses


ENS206: Systems Modeling and Control - Modeling of mechanical, electrical, electromechanical, thermal and fluid systems using differential equations, Laplace transform techniques and state-space representations, Frequency domain analysis, Open-loop versus closed-loop control, simple PID controllers.


ME303: Control Systems Design - Dynamic models, Dynamic response, Feedback, Sensitivity functions, Controller design using root-locus, frequency response and state-space methods, Digital implementation of analog controllers, PID controllers, Lead-lag compensators, Linear state variable feedback control, Observers.


ME403: Introduction to Robotics - Spatial descriptions, Forward and inverse kinematics, Robot Jacobians, Robot dynamics using recursive Newton-Euler and Lagrange methods, Trajectory generation, Independent joint control, Inverse dynamics control, Force control, Visual control.


ME425: Autonomous Mobile Robotics – Locomotion (wheeled, walking, flying, swimming), Perception (nonvisual and visual sensors), Data Fusion, Localization (Markov and Kalman filters) and Map Building, SLAM and its variants, Motion Planning.


Graduate Courses


EE524: Digital Control – Models for sampled-data systems; sampling, digitization and reconstruction; the z-transform and discrete transfer functions; design using discrete equivalents (emulation); design of digital control systems using transform methods; state-space analysis and design of digital control systems.


ME525: Autonomous Mobile Robotics – Locomotion (wheeled, walking, flying, swimming), Perception (nonvisual and visual sensors), Data Fusion, Localization (Markov and Kalman filters) and Map Building, SLAM and its variants, Motion Planning.


EE528: Nonlinear Control Systems – Nonlinear phenomena, Second order systems, Phase plane analysis, Higher order systems, Lyapunov stability theory for autonomous and non-autonomous systems, Backstepping, Input-output stability, Input-to-state stability, Passivity, Feedback linearization, Nonlinear observers


EE529: Vision Based Control – Visual servoing, Camera configurations, Camera and end-effector kinematic screw, Visual features, Interaction matrix, Image based visual servoing, Position based visual servoing, Hybrid methods.


EE569: 3D Vision – Image formation, Camera models, Image primitives and correspondence, Optical flow, Tracking, Camera calibration, Stereo, Epipolar geometry, Essential and Fundamental matrices, 8-point algorithm, 3D reconstruction


EE571: Linear Systems – Vector spaces, Linear transformations, Spectrum of Linear Operators, Jordan Canonical Forms, Cayley-Hamilton Theorem, Functions of matrices, LTI and LTV systems, Stability, Controllability, Observability, Realizations, State feedback and Observers


EE629: Geometric Modeling – Parametric and implicit curves and surfaces, curvature and torsion, Hermite interpolation curves, Bezier curves and surface patches, B-spline curves and surface patches, Fourier descriptors, algebraic curves and surfaces


EE672: System Identification – The mathematical foundations of system identification, Non-parametric techniques, Parameterizations and model structures, Parameter estimation, Asymptotic statistical theory, User choices, Experimental design, Choice of model structure.



Administrative Duties

*      Member of the Curriculum Committee

*      Member of the Science and Society Committee

*      Member of the Recruitment and Publicity


Graduate Students


*      Sanem Evren (PhD)

*      Talha Boz (PhD)

*      Caner Şahin (PhD)

*      Alper Yıldırım (MS)

*      Barış Can Üstündağ (MS)

*      Ahmet Eren Demirel (MS)

*      Gökhan Alcan (MS)


Thesis Supervision


1.      Developing Object Detection, Tracking and Image Mosaicing Algorithms for Visual Surveillance

Taygun Kekeç, MS Thesis, Sabanci University, August 2013


2.      Metric and Appearance Based Visual SLAM for Mobile Robots

Caner Şahin, MS Thesis, Sabanci University, August 2013


3.      A New Coordination Framework for Multi-UAV Formation Control

Mehmet Ali Güney, MS Thesis, Sabanci University, July 2013


4.      UAV Based Group Coordination of UGVs

Soner Ulun, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, July 2013


5.      Modeling, Control and Simulation of a Prototype Wind Turbine Using S4WT

Sanem Evren, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, August 2012


6.      Nonlinear Control of a Quad Tilt-Wing UAV

Serhat Dikyar, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, August 2011


7.      An Observer Based Approach to Force Reflecting Bilateral Teleoperation

Duruhan Özçelik, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, August 2011




8.      Development of an Automated Sanding System

Fatih Mutluel, MS Thesis (LFI Program), Sabancı University, February 2011


9.      Design, Construction and Flight Control of a Quad Tilt-Wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Ertuğrul Çetinsoy, PhD Thesis, Sabancı University, August 2010


10.  Composite Prototyping and Vision Based Hierarchical Control of a Quad Tilt-Wing UAV

Efe Sırımoğlu, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, August 2010


11.  Delay Compensation in Bilateral Teleoperation Using Predictor Observers

Tuğba Leblebici, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, August 2010


12.  GPS Based Position Control and Waypoint Navigation of a Quad Tilt-Wing UAV

Cevdet Hançer, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, August 2010


13.  Modeling and Control of a New Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (SUAVI) with Tilt-Wing Mechanism

Kaan Taha Öner, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2009


14.  Motion Estimation of Planar Curves and Their Alignment Using Visual Servoing

Ahmet Yasin Yazıcıoğlu, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2009


15.  Statistical Facial Feature Extraction and Lip Segmentation

Mustafa Berkay Yılmaz, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2009 (Co-Supervisor)


16.  Novel Estimation and Control Techniques in Micromanipulation Using Vision and Force Feedback

Hakan Bilen, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2008


17.  3D Reconstruction, Classification and Mechanical Characterization of Microstructures

Muhammet Ali Hocaoğlu, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2008


18.  Formation Control of Multiple Mobile Robots Using Parametric and Implicit Representations

Yeşim Hümay Esin, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2008


19.  Visually Aided Force Control with Fuzzy Parameter Tuning

Berk Çallı, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2008 (Co-Supervisor)


20.  Model Free Visual Servoing in Macro and Micro Domain Robotic Applications

Erol Özgür, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2007


21.  Automation of Relaxation-Retraction Measurement

Zeynel Abidin Fincan, MS Thesis (LFI Program), Sabanci University, 2007


22.  Design and Implementation of a Vision System for Microassembly Workstation

Eray Doğan, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2006


23.  Modeling and Control of the Coordinated Motion of a Group of Autonomous Mobile Robots

Nusrettin Güleç, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2005


24.  A Sliding Mode Approach to Visual Motion Estimation

Burak Yılmaz, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2005 (Co-Supervisor)


25.  Different Approaches on the Implementation of Implicit Polynomials in Visual Tracking

Burak Kemal Yöndem, MS Thesis, Sabancı University, 2005 (Co-Supervisor)


26.  Affine Invariant Normalization and Modeling of 2D/3D Objects Using EFD Based Implicit Polynomials

Sait Şener, MS Thesis, Gebze Institute of Technology, 2004


27.  Character Recognition Using Closed-Bounded Algebraic Curves

Sema Candemir, MS Thesis, Gebze Institute of Technology, 2004


28.  Decomposition of Implicit Polynomial Equations for Object Recognition and Comparison

Ömer Kayaaltı, MS Thesis, Gebze Institute of Technology, 2003


29.  Determination of Affine Invariants of 2D Objects and Application to Object Recognition

Osman Kurt, MS Thesis, Gebze Institute of Technology, 2003 



Graduation Project Supervision


1.      Control of Wind Energy Systems, A. E. Demirel, Sabancı University, January 2013.


2.      High Level Control of a UAV Using an Onboard Microcomputer, B. C. Üstündağ, D. Üzüşen, Sabancı University, June 2012.


3.      ARM Based Microcontrollers for Low-Level Control of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, H. Kazancı, E. Görgün, Sabancı University, June 2012.


4.      Developing Graphical User Interface for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, G. Yılmaz, Sabancı University, June 2012.


5.      Vision Based Coordination of Mobile Robots, E. Karadere, M. G. Özer, Ö. Mutlu, Sabancı University, June 2012.


6.      Design and Prototyping of a Small Sized Quadrotor, C. Karahasonoğlu, O. Gözek, C. Özenel, Sabancı University, June 2011.


7.      Hierarchical Control of a Quadrotors Using GPS and Vision, O. Y. Çokay, Sabancı University, June 2011.


8.      Time Delay Compensation in Bilateral Teleoperation, E. Çalışgan, Sabancı University, June 2010.


9.      Design and Prototyping of a Quadrotor, A. Şahinöz, M. Gülhan, Sabancı University, June 2010.


10.  Mechanical Design of a Tilt-Wing UAV, O. Aydoğdu, Sabancı University, June 2010.


11.  Sensor and Actuator Integration of a UAV for Autonomous Flight Control, Y. Tüzel, E. Tanrıverdi, Sabancı University, June 2010.


12.  Actuator Tests for the Control of a Quadrotor, Ö. R. Kemaloğlu, A. Cezzar, D. H. Aktaş, Sabancı University, June 2010.


13.  Autonomous Mobile Robots with Vision Sensing, S. Dikyar, F. Mutluel and C. Çakır, Sabancı University, June 2009.


14.  Modeling and Control of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with Tilt-Wing Mechanism, T. Ayken, Sabancı University, June 2009.


15.  Maze Solving Robot, O. O. Eroğlu and İ. H. Altuntaş, Sabancı University, June 2009.


16.  Wave Based Control of a Toothed Belt System, E. C. Arslan, Sabancı University, January 2009.


17.  Multi-camera Tracking of Fish in Aquarium, S. Satır, Sabancı University, June 2008.


18.  Design and Construction of an Experimental Facility for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, C. Hançer, E. Çalıkoğlu, E. Duman, E. Baran, Sabancı University, June 2008.


19.  Audio-Visual Speech Recognition, H. Şirin, Sabancı University, June 2007.


20.  Visual Control of a Direct Drive Robot, F. M. Özkeskin, E. Arslanturk, O. Kurugöl and G. Berkan, Sabancı University, June 2006.


21.  Ball Cathing Direct Drive SCARA Robot, H. A. Varol, A. F. Tabak, M. Fidanoğlu and U. Tümerdem, Sabancı University, June 2005.


22.  A Modular Snake Robot with Pneumatic Pistons, M. Degirmenci, G. T. Kursun, İ. K. Gunes, Sabanci University, June 2005.


23.  A Modular Snake Robot with Pneumatic Cylinders, M. Yilmaz, Y. Kulak, S. Dundar, Sabanci University, June 2005.


24.  Turbine Blade Reverse Engineering, A. M. Vuruşkan and N. D. Bozgeyik, Sabancı University, June 2005.


25.  Visual Servoing of Nonholonomic Mobile Robots, C. Şahin, A. M. Oymagil, Sabancı University, June 2005.




*      Taygun Kekeç (PhD Student, Jean Monnet University, France)


*      Soner Ulun (PhD Student, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)


*      Serhat Dikyar (Aselsan, Ankara)


*      Duruhan Özçelik (Altınay Robot Technologies)


*      Fatih Mutluel (TÜBİTAK-MAM, Energy Institute)


*      Dr. Ertuğrul Çetinsoy (Asst. Prof., Istanbul Commerce University)


*      Efe Sırımoğlu (Aselsan, Ankara)


*      Cevdet Hançer (Unilever)


*      Tuğba Leblebici (TAI, Ankara)


*      Kaan T. Öner (Vistek ISRA Vision, Istanbul)


*      Ahmet Yasin Yazıcıoğlu (PhD Student, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)


*      Sarp Satır (PhD Student, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)


*      Mustafa Berkay Yılmaz (PhD Student, Sabancı University)


*      Hakan Bilen (PhD Student, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium)


*      Muhammet Ali Hocaoğlu (TÜBİTAK-MAM)


*      Yeşim Hümay Esin (Robotics Engineer, GE Marmara Technology Center)


*      Berk Çallı (PhD Student, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands)


*      Dr. Erol Özgür (Postdoctoral Researcher at Blaise Pascal University, France)


*      Eray Doğan (System Engineer, Roketsan, Ankara/Istanbul)


*      Nusrettin Güleç (Aselsan, Ankara)


*      Burak Yılmaz (PhD student, Northeastern University)


*      Burak Kemal Yöndem (Turkcell, Istanbul)


*      Dr. Sema Candemir (Postdoctoral Researcher, Dept. of Computer Science, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia, USA)


*      Sait Şener (Nortel Netaş Telekomünikasyon A.Ş., Istanbul)


*      Ömer Kayaaltı (Faculty Member, Erciyes University, Kayseri)



*      Edited Books

*      Book Chapters

*      Journal Articles

*      Papers in Conference Proceedings

*      Papers in National Conference Proceedings

*      Theses