North Texas Universities Collaborating on Drone Aerial Computing Platform

The initiative is funded by a nearly $1 million National Science Foundation grant.

Dr. Shengli Fu

Two North Texas universities are using a National Science Foundation grant to develop integral drone software and design.

University of Texas at Arlington associate professor Yan Wan will lead a team of researchers including University of North Texas associate professor Shengli Fu that will produce an airborne computing platform for multiple unmanned aerial systems. Other universities involved are Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.

The initiative is funded by a nearly $1 million NSF grant divided among the universities.


University of Texas at Arlington Associate Professor Yan Wan will lead the group of researchers on the drone initiative. [Photo: Courtesy of UTA]

Researchers will design software to allow easy communication between active drones and the ability to download their collected information in real time. 

“We will develop and share the open-network aerial computing platform that researchers in fields such as electrical engineering, computer science and engineering, and aerospace engineering can use to explore research in the use of networked UAVs,” Wan said in a release.

Fu hopes to create drone technology capable of customizable features by operators, according to UNT. Fu said the drones could be utilized for a wide range of industries including agriculture and environmental testing.

“We want the ability for multiple drones to handle one mission — drones that can work as a network so if one fails, the others can continue the task,” Fu said.

One example could be environmental monitoring for things such as air quality. 

“These drones would allow for elevation of sensors for real-time readings by multiple sources over a wider area, improving accuracy,” Fu said. 

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