CAREER: Towards Networked Airborne Computing in Uncertain Airspace: A Control and Networking Facilitated Distributed Computing Framework

NSF Project Number: 2048266

Networked airborne computing is a new computing paradigm that relies on the airborne network formed by aerial vehicles with direct flight-to-flight communication links to achieve computing in the air. It can not only benefit a wide range of existing applications (e.g., drone show, precision agriculture and emergence response), but also give rise to a variety of new applications (e.g., next-generation air traffic control, Internet of Things and real-time 3-dimensional mapping). Despite the exciting applications, enabling networked airborne computing requires overcoming many formidable challenges such as 3-dimensional node mobility, highly uncertain operating environment and strict safety requirements. This project aims to develop an innovative theoretical framework that conquers these challenges to enable networked airborne computing. Unlike traditional mobile computing systems that treat mobility, uncertainty and communication as constraints for computing, the proposed framework exploits their benefits to facilitate robust, efficient and scalable computing in the uncertain, dynamic and heterogeneous airspace.

The proposed framework, featured by fast response, resilience to uncertain disturbances and failures, scalability, and adaptivity to system and environmental changes, will advance the fundamental Computer and Network Systems (CNS) science and engineering on mobile computing and produce broader civilian and economic impacts related to unmanned systems based applications. The findings of this project will also contribute to fields such as distributed computing, stochastic optimal control, networking, real-time decision-making under uncertainty and experiment design. Innovative education and outreach activities (e.g., virtual lab modules, summer camps and internships) will produce a profound impact on the community and significantly benefit students, especially underrepresented minorities, at different levels in San Diego county and beyond. The proposed dissemination activities (e.g., workshops and tutorials) will further broaden the impact of the proposed research and benefit the general public.