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Airborne Computing Networks

About the Project

NSF Project Numbers and Links: 1730675, 1730589, 1730570, 1730325

CI-New: Collaborative Research: Developing an Open Networked Airborne Computing Platform

Abstract: Networked airborne computing is a novel computing paradigm that can benefit many important civilian applications, including intelligent transportation, emergency response, infrastructure monitoring, precision agriculture, etc. Networked airborne computing also opens up many new fundamental research opportunities. Despite its importance, existing infrastructures for Unmanned Airborne Systems (UAS) research cannot serve the research needs because they are often designed specifically for a single purpose and/or oriented to missions that involve a single aircraft. Therefore, an open networked airborne computing infrastructure is critically needed to enable the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) communities and beyond to participate in new research and development in this burgeoning field. This project is expected to produce broad impact related to cooperative multi-UAS applications in emergency, energy, environment, and transportation sectors. This project also provides Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics learning opportunities, and expands underrepresented minority participation. Three of the participating universities are minority-serving and/or Hispanic serving institutions with a large number of underrepresented minority students.

The objective of this project is to develop a new community infrastructure to enable advanced research on networked airborne computing systems. Specifically, the proposed community infrastructure will provide hardware/software designs and development tools, workshop and training opportunities, and field-test support in a Federal Aviation Administration-designated test site. The proposed airborne computing platform is innovative in that it includes a UAS-mounted generic and interactive computing system, a broadband wireless communication system, a UAS/antenna cooperative control system, and up-to-down application development capabilities to support a full-scale development. Both hardware and software are open-sourced and designed in modules with virtualization support so that CISE researchers can easily enhance or replace modules and instantiate additional virtualized functions to facilitate various research and development activities for networked airborne computing applications and services. The modular design, flexibility and extensibility for new development allow researchers to easily isolate and develop specific components of their own research focus while relying on the basic functionality of other components, thus saving significant cost and time for learning and development. The project opens up opportunities for CISE researchers to quickly develop and test solutions that address many new fundamental challenges in networked airborne computing, and to significantly advance cross-cutting research and development in computing, communication, control, and aerospace.