Shengli Fu, University of North Texas College of Engineering associate professor and chair of electrical engineering, has been awarded a $250,000 grant for drone research and development from The National Science Foundation.
Fu’s grant is one part of a $1 million fund for drone research that has been split between
UNT, the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.
Fu plans to begin his research on Sept. 1 and hopes to have an initial prototype by early 2018.
“I’m excited about the potential for this grant,” Fu said in a news release. “There is a significant need to improve drone techniques for research. The current ‘out-of-the-box’ designs only allow for video and photography. We need drones that can accomplish more – communication, control, computation and networking.”
Fu’s grant covers three years of research and will allow him to “create an open platform drone for testing by researchers in computer and information science and engineering,” the release stated.
Using the open platform will allow him to, after he provides testers with information and a CPU, let researchers completely customize their drone to their needs, adding sensors, equipment, transmitters, or whatever else is necessary. This customization is important because Fu says the drone technology can be used for a variety of needs from emergency response to environment and agriculture testing.
“This will be a plug-and-play design that will allow researchers to access all technology that meets their needs via an app-like interface,” Fu said in the release. “With the open platform, researchers will save time and money by tailoring an existing drone’s CPU to fit their needs.”