The small helicopters would be remotely controlled and would be able to send back pictures and data to a central command post. They would also be able to communicate with each other to co-ordinate their operations.
Professor Gerard Parr, Professor of Telecommunications Engineering at Ulster said the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could be used in a number of scenarios including to:
* Search for people lost in isolated areas like mountains, forests or moors.
* Monitor disasters like floods or forest fires which could cover thousands of acres.
* Survey biological disasters such as chemical factory fires and sample gas emissions.
* Act as a communications platform where normal radio or mobile telephone transmissions are impossible or disrupted.
Professor Parr and his colleague Professor Sally McClean, Professor of Mathematics at Ulster, are working with scientists from University College London and the University of Oxford on the project. The teams have been awarded a prestigious £2.2m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the UK government’s leading funding agency for research in engineering and physical sciences, to investigate the development of the innovative systems and control technology.
Ulster’s expertise lies in the fields of telecommunications protocolds, radio communications, control and optimization of data management. The project runs from September this year until February 2012.
Professor Parr said: “We intend to use helicopter models as the platform for the new technology. We need a vehicle that can carry cameras and various sensors as well as the control mechanisms. A helicopter-type unmanned vehicle would be able to hover and would be more stable than an aeroplane for specific operations.
“Ultimately, the intention would be to send several of these unmanned vehicles, a swarm, out at one time to enable them to cover a very large area in the shortest possible time. Using infra-red and other sensors they could scan large areas like Dartmoor, the Mournes or the Lake District using intelligent search algorithms to identify a target whilst at the same time avoiding collision with one another if someone was reported missing.
“They would be controlled from a command base, which could be a jeep roving about the area or possibly airborne, but they would also be able to act autonomously. For example, if one UAV detected a signal such as a heat source, or a radio pulse from clothing or a mobile phone call, it could leave the other vehicles to investigate and then return and relay its information back to base.” There are many engineering and research challenges to be addressed as part of the project, not least to design adequate energy awareness protocols that will optimise in-situ operations as long as possible in support of a particular mission.
The UAVs could stay aloft for up to half a hour, flying at 20-30mph or even faster over a range of 5000 metres or more depending on payload, mission function and power levels.
The vehicles could be equipped with application specific sensors, including heat sensitive cameras and video, gas particulate filters, wireless radio communications and GPS technology. They could organize their own search, determine if the object found was what they were looking for and then report back to the ground controller.
As well as Professors Parr and McClean, the multi-disciplinary team consists of Professor Steve Hailes and Dr Simon Julier from the Department of Computer Science at UCL and Dr Niki Trigoni and Dr Stephen Cameron from the Oxford University Computing Laboratory who have international reputations in the areas of hardware sensor design and helicoptor platforms.
The team were awarded the grant following a highly competitive process for funding under the EPSRC WINES III (Wireless and Wireless Intelligent Networked Systems) Research Programme. A total of 61 consortia proposals were originally submitted, with 15 shortlisted and four going through to the final selection.
The scientists will build prototypes of the unmanned vehicles with external partners including BAE Systems Operations Ltd, Thales Research and Technology UK Ltd, Communications Research Centre, Canada, BT Research Laboratories UK, Boeing Co, USA and the UK Home Office Science Development Branch.
David Young | alfa
Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers
20.07.2018 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore
Study suggests buried Internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise
18.07.2018 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences