The year in review (2017)

Some highlights from the mobile systems group at the University of Klagenfurt in 20 tweets

01. Our research on time synchronization in wireless sensor networks has been published in the IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics. A dynamic stochastic model is applied to track the clock evolution of oscillators and achieve synchrony to a central time reference. Indoor and outdoor experiments with commercial platforms, done by Wasif and Jorge, serve as a proof of concept and assess the synchronization accuracy under varying temperature conditions.

02. The Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems (NES) released a new Website and blog. Being based on Wordpress and a style from WPZoom, it features a tablet-friendly minimalistic design with a single-level menu bar. The list of publications is automatically fed from the university’s research database. 14 blog articles were written in 2017.

03. I gave an invited talk about self-organizing synchronization in networked systems at the ITG International Conference on Systems, Communications, and Coding (SCC) in Hamburg. The talk summarized our work in this domain ranging from convergence proofs to experimental performance measurements with programmable radios.

04. Wasif defended his doctoral thesis, making him the 11th doctoral graduate from my group. He joined T-Mobile in Vienna.

05. Our drone team gave a demonstration for state secretary and later science minister Harald Mahrer, who visited U Klagenfurt in March.

06. Daniel will spent a semester at the University of Southern California (USC) in 2018. He received a scholarship for his stay.

07. I visited the Center for Aerial Robotics Research and Education (CARRE) in Toronto in April. It has an exciting research portfolio in small drone systems. My invited talk discussed wireless communications for drones and novel results for job selection.

08. Samira and I attended re:publica in Berlin. It was an exciting event not least because Samira gave a very personal talk about drones and their application in disaster response. The talk included a great video about “disaster support by drones” made by some of our researchers.

09. My keynote at European Wireless in Dresden titled “Networked drones — thy hype is ripe” discussed the emerging technology of networked small drones operating in an autonomous fashion. I reviewed applications with focus on disaster management and aerial monitoring, gave an overview of engineering challenges in the design and operation of such systems, and highlighted open research issues for wireless networking and distributed coordination in this context. Our multidrone system developed at Lakeside Labs was presented and explained.

10. A three-day interdisciplinary workshop on self-organization and swarm intelligence in cyber physical systems was held at Lakeside Labs. Experts presented their work and discussed open issues in this exciting field. The workshop was followed by a meeting of the Horizon 2020 project CPSwarm — which develops a workbench for the design of swarms of cyber physical systems. My doctoral student Micha and Lakeside Labs’ senior researcher Melanie (who joined us in spring) are working in this project in collaboration with my colleague Wilfried Elmenreich.

11.Our contribution to drone delivery systems: We analyzed different classes of job selection policies that control how a network of autonomous aerial vehicles delivers goods from depots to customers. This work was presented by Pasquale at the Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) conference at MIT in July (It was a great!) and other events.

12. As part of our mandatory self-evaluation at the Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems, we performed a one-day workshop to do a SWOT analysis. We discussed our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the domains of research, teaching, communications and administration, and personel. The institute also successfully passed an internal audit.

13. We held a very inspiring three-day group workshop to discuss and fix some strategic aspects with focus on outreach and research. Scientific presentations in the doctoral seminar were also part of the workshop.

14. Austria establishes the “5G Playground” — a test field for future mobile systems. It can be used by companies and research institutes to advance their prototypes and products. The concept was presented in a press conference at the ministry for transport, innovation, and technology.

15. Our article “Drone networks: Communications, coordination, and sensing“ accepted for Ad Hoc Networks explains a high-level architecture for the design of a collaborative aerial system consisting of drones with on-board sensors and embedded processing, coordination, and networking capabilities. We implemented a multi-drone system consisting of quadcopters and demonstrated its potential in disaster assistance, search and rescue, and aerial monitoring. Furthermore, we illustrate design challenges and present potential solutions based on the lessons learned so far.

16. A new Karl Popper doctoral school on networked autonomous aerial vehicles has been acquired and established. Its objective is to advance collaborative research and education and makes Klagenfurt a hub in this emerging and disruptive technology. Groups from robotics, pervasive computing, mobile communications systems, multimedia systems, and other disciplines join forces to create an inspiring environment in which faculty members, PhD students, international research fellows, and world-leading labs and companies closely collaborate. JPL (NASA/Caltech) and T-Mobile Austria joined as external partners. Four university-funded researchers joined this school in fall; among them: Agata in my team.

A related project with drone navigation in forests is done in cooperation with my colleague Stephan Weiss. PhD student Arke from Lakeside Labs works in this project on obstacle avoidance and path planning.

17. The University of Klagenfurt awarded an honorary doctorate to Johannes Huber from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. I had the honor to introduce him with a laudatio. The award was given as part of the 10-year anniversary event of the faculty of technical sciences at our university.

18. We presented two papers at the 20th ACM International Conference on Modeling, Analysis and Simulation of Wireless and Mobile Systems (MSWiM) in Miami Beach. The first paper investigates the concept of interference prediction as an unprecedented approach for interference management and medium access in wireless networks. It was presented by Mahin as her first paper as first author.

19. The second MSWiM paper presents a proof-of-concept for an ultra-wideband (UWB) sensor network deployed in a mockup of a small passenger cabin of a commercial airplane. This work with our project partner Airbus received the best paper award of the conference, which makes us very proud.

20. Our work with the company SKIDATA investigates a novel boarding solution for cabin-based transport systems — e.g., ski lifts, cable cars, subways: In order to avoid long queues at succeeding boarding stations, a display in the boarding area tells the guests how many of them are allowed to enter the next cabin. The system has been studied by means of queuing theory and simulations and will now be tested in a ski resort.

21.Scientists also need some free days to recover. One of the invaluable goodies of working at Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt is that many great opportunities for outdoor activities are closeby. Carinthia is full of mountains and lakes; and the Adriatic sea in Italy and Slovenia is only 2.5 hours away.