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SnT Drone Research Cooks up a Swarm at Cybernetics Conference

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Published on Tuesday, 08 August 2017

A team of Researchers at the University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security Reliability and Trust (SnT) and Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication (FSTC) received the Best Paper Award at the recent IEEE International Conference on Cybernetics in Exeter, UK.

Cybernetics is the study of communication and control systems in machines and living things, and Prof. Pascal Bouvry (FSTC and SnT), Dr. Grégoire Danoy (Research Scientist, FSTC) and Dr. Matthias R. Brust (Research Associate, SnT, ‘Digital Trust for Smart ICT’ project co-funded with ILNAS1 ), were recognized for their work on self-organising ‘swarms’ of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). They were joined in their work by three students from the University’s Master in Information and Computer Sciences (Maciej Zurad, Laurent Hentges and Leandro Gomes).

(L to R) Dr. Matthias R. Brust, Prof. Pascal Bouvry and Dr. Grégoire Danoy

Recent research allows UAVs to both fly autonomously and to perform computing and reasoning tasks and share data with one-another. Crucially, this enables self-organising groups of UAVs to work together in attaining common goals, reducing mission time and increasing both the range of action and the resilience of the system. Applications include for instance search and rescue missions, and environmental monitoring and protection.

However, these benefits bring complex new research challenges. For example, how can a swarm cover the maximum area possible while ensuring that individual UAVs remain within communicating distance of one another? In their paper, ‘Target Tracking Optimization of UAV Swarms based on Dual-Pheromone Clustering’, Prof. Bouvry and his team tackle this key challenge, proposing a new mobility model for UAV swarms.

‘Our solution combines a nature-inspired algorithm based on ant colonies with an advanced clustering technique’, says Dr. Danoy. ‘Attractive and repulsive pheromones are used to mark detected targets and visited areas respectively, to maximize both target tracking and area coverage. Meanwhile, the clustering technique ensures that the UAVs maintain stable overlay networks.’

The IEEE biennial International Conference on Cybernetics (CYBCONF) provides a premier international forum for researchers and practitioners to report the latest innovations, summarize the state-of-the-art, and exchange ideas and advances in all aspects of Cybernetics. The 2017 edition was held in Exeter from 21 to 23 June.

1. Institut Luxembourgeois de la Normalisation, de l'Accréditation, de la Sécurité et qualité des produits et services