Undergrads Push Drone Swarm Research With Help from Federal Funding | Embry-Riddle Aviation University

Twenty-four U.S. students will soon have the opportunity to participate in National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research into the networking capabilities that allow groups of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or drones to operate in “swarms.” by dr. Houbing Song, associate professor of Electrical engineering and computer science

Director of Embry-Riddle’s Security and Optimization for Networked Globe Laboratory (SONG Lab), Song, who also recently won the university’s 2021-2022 College of Engineering Outstanding Research Award, received an NSF grant of $322,886 to continue his research in this area, particularly targeting on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, over a three-year period.

The first two students selected to participate in the study are Embry-Riddle software engineering junior Luke Newcomb and Laurel Celeste Dodson, Senior Computer Engineering. Newcomb, who describes “everything” about drones — from their hardware to the chips that power them to the software and algorithms that make them work — as in his “wheelhouse” looks forward to starting the project.

“I’m interested in almost every aspect of them,” said the Merritt Island, Florida resident. “Drones can go almost anywhere and do almost anything, which is what makes them so versatile.”

That versatility, he added, is what makes UAS research so valuable.

“Drones will have a place in our future,” he said. “The technology continues to grow beyond what we once knew was possible or what we could ever dream of.”

Research activities will focus on three core areas – network management, network design and AI/machine learning – and students will conduct field tests to validate and apply new protocols.

“The participation of the students will provide preliminary results that will lay a foundation for the development of next-generation drone swarm systems and applications, which will be drastically different from the network requirements for current systems and applications,” Song said. “My ultimate goal is to tap into a diverse pool of student talent and broaden participation in science and engineering, especially when it comes to integrating AI/machine learning into drones.”

Song has already licensed two patents for: UAS Detection and Denialand published several articles on the subject – including one on counterintelligence measures cited by an arm of the Department of Defense and another that won the Best Paper Award at the 2019 Integrated Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Conference. He also holds three Embry-Riddle Ph.D. students, all of whom have progressed to tenure-track faculty positions at other U.S. academic institutions.

Song also played an important role in the development of Embry-Riddle’s one-of-a-kind drone cybersecurity curriculumand the counter-drone technology he has developed is currently: be commercialized† In addition, along with Dr. Yongxin Liu, a tenure track assistant professor of Mathhe discovered and mathematically proved the role of rotating memories in enabling AI.

“Students participating in this project are more likely to continue their interest and involvement in research, either by pursuing advanced studies or choosing careers relevant to drone swarming,” Song added. “Talent shortage is a major concern for the nascent drone industry, so this project will give participants a significant advantage in their career search.”

dr. Richard Stansbury, an associate professor of Computer Engineering and Computer Science, serves as the project’s co-principal investigator. Other mentors include Dr. Thomas Yang and Juan Granizo Martinez, both from the Technical Universityand dr. Sirani Perera of the College of Arts and Sciences

Students currently enrolled in a US program leading to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree are eligible to participate in the study. Students interested in participating in the NSF-funded drone swarm survey can: Register online

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