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Island University Receives Quarter Million Dollar Grant for Drone Research

September 06, 2017

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Since the introduction of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), they have been found to be a versatile technology that can contribute to a variety of fields, including national packaging services that deliver mail to assisting governments across the globe. Staying at the forefront of this technology, Dr. Junfei Xie, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has been awarded $224,322 for UAS research by The National Science Foundation (NSF). This new grant will allow Xie to develop a networked airborne computing platform to enable advanced research in UAS exploration. This computing platform, which integrates communication, control, networking, and computing capabilities, will enable a broad range of new applications, such as intelligent transportation, emergency response, infrastructure monitoring and precision agriculture.

“We want users to be able to customize their usage,” said Xie. The computing platform will be modularized so that users can easily pick and modify modules that satisfy their needs to design their own applications. This will save a significant amount of cost and time for learning and development for both academia and industry.”

The NSF awarded a total of $1 million in grant money for this collaborative project among four universities, including Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of North Texas and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Three out of the four universities are Hispanic Serving Institutions.

“This project will benefit many underrepresented minority students,” Xie said. “Various education and outreach activities, such as student competitions and research seminars, will be carried out to engage students with this project and will hopefully encourage them to pursue an education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Xie will collaborate with researchers from the other three universities and the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation and the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute. She plans to begin her research in September with the hiring of graduate assistants who will aid in furthering the project.

“With more research, drones will become part of everyday life,” said Xie. “Just like cell phones, drones have the capability to make daily tasks easier, and I am excited to be a part of this research.”