Engineering and Computer Science, Office of Research Award $230,000 for UAS Research

 a drone flies over a field

January 6, 2017

Six collaborative research groups from the University’s various schools and colleges have been awarded more than $230,000 in state revitalization funding for their projects in unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Projects include energy mapping of buildings, autonomous navigation and the development of regulations and policies to integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into communities. An additional $100,000 was also made available to support these projects via shared facilities and capabilities.

The funding was recently awarded after a call for proposals went out to researchers across campus from the College of Engineering and Computer Science, in collaboration with the Office of Research, to stimulate research and industry collaboration in the field of UAS.

The funding comes from a portion of Phase 1 of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative, as well as supplemental funding from the University’s Office of Research. Central New York was one of three Upstate regions awarded $500 million in 2015 for various projects as part of the initiative. Additional funding may be available for successful projects during Phase 2 of the initiative, beginning in May.

“UAS technology will unlock an incredibly broad range of new capabilities for humanity. With strengths in computer science, engineering and policy, Syracuse University is uniquely qualified to do the work that will integrate UAS into our society safely and effectively. These grants are a significant step forward in establishing the University as an academic leader in this emerging field,” says College of Engineering and Computer Science Dean Teresa A. Dahlberg.

The groups selected represent faculty members and researchers from the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering and Computer Science, Institute for National Security and CounterterrorismSchool of ArchitectureSchool of Information Studies and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

“The UAS funding initiative yielded an amazing array of high-quality proposals from across multiple units across the University,” says Interim Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Peter Vanable. “The range of topics addressed in the collaborative proposals we received, for both funded and unfunded projects, speaks to the depth and intensity of interest in this important area of applied research at the University.”

The request for proposals was seeking to fund projects with one or more of the following attributes or results: build the University’s research expertise in safe and secure UAS operations, continue as a long-term sustained project with additional support from other sources, explore ideas across disciplines and with industrial partners, create innovative curriculum and demonstrate potential for economic development impact.

“The goal of this call for proposals is to stimulate multidisciplinary UAS research and education at the intersection of engineering, computer science, policy and security. The funded projects are not only addressing this goal but also studying innovative use of UAS technologies in application areas, such as urban and environmental monitoring,” says Gurdip Singh, associate dean for research and graduate programs in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “This comprehensive portfolio of capabilities will position SU in a leadership role in this area.”

The projects and participants awarded funding are the following:

Heat Mapping Drones: Building Envelope Energy Performance and Privacy Diagnostics Using Unmanned Aerial Systems ($43,162)—Tarek Rakha, School of Architecture; Senem Velipasalar, College of Engineering and Computer Science; Yang Wang, School of Information Studies

  • This project will employ a UAS platform equipped with thermal cameras to conduct rapid building envelope performance diagnostics and perform aerial assessment mapping of building energy. This platform will help to maximize energy savings and improvements in building performance. The project is relevant to promoting safe and secure unmanned systems operating in urban areas, including regions with closely spaced high-rise buildings.

Toward Full Onboard Autonomy for Unmanned Vehicle in GPS-denied Environments ($39,823)—Amit Sanyal, Makan Fardad and Senem Velipasalar, College of Engineering and Computer Science

  • This project will develop a system for fully autonomous navigation and coordination of unmanned aerial vehicles by providing stability and trajectory assurance guarantees, performing onboard processing of images for detection of objects of interest and autonomously generating trajectories for collision and obstacle avoidance.

Environmental Monitoring and Geoscience Surveying Applications for sUAS at Syracuse University ($35,322)—Christa Kelleher, Laura Lautz, Robert Moucha and Christopher A. Scholz, College of Arts and Sciences; Laura Condon, College of Engineering and Computer Science

  • This project will develop operational expertise in environmental monitoring and geoscience surveying by applying UAS technologies to current research projects. It will incorporate UAS methodologies and UAS-derived data sets into the graduate and undergraduate curriculum in earth and environmental sciences and geography.

Law and Policy of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ($68,248)—William C. Banks, Laurie Hobart and Keli Perrin, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism; Nathan Sales and William C. Snyder, College of Law; Robert Murrett and Tina Nabatchi, Maxwell School

  • This project will develop a policy and legal framework that supports the integration of unmanned aerial systems into New York State communities while ensuring public safety, protecting civil liberties and promoting industry growth. INSCT will plan, organize and host a spring 2017 workshop on law and policy as related to emerging and potentially contentious regulatory issues.

Development of an Integrated System for Design, Operation, and Decision-making for UAVs ($33,423)—Utpal Roy, Howard Blair, Ram Murthy, Mike Roppo and Svetoslava Todorova, College of Engineering and Computer Science; Stefan W. Ballmer, College of Arts and Sciences

  • The objective of this project is to develop sensor- and IoT (Internet of Things)-enabled technologies for application-specific and data-driven unmanned aerial vehicle designs, operations and decision-makings.

Development of Educational and Training Materials for UAS ($13,000)—Utpal Roy and Ram Murthy, College of Engineering and Computer Science

  • The objective is to develop a course to teach undergraduate/graduate students how to use current UAS technologies to design, manufacture and configure application-specific UAVs, and then to carry out routine operations in a safe and secured environment.

The projects were reviewed and selected by a committee of faculty members and representatives from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

By Kathleen Haley