By Alex Dunbar
A project being developed by College of Engineering & Computer Science Professor Utpal Roy and Ph.D. student Yunpeng Li is one of six finalists in the Genius NY 2018 Competition. The Genius NY program is the world’s largest business competition for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and drew 250 entries from all around the world.
UAS have become widely known in recent years as photographers, research scientists, small businesses and large companies like Amazon and FedEx look at potential uses. Safe UAS operations require traffic management systems and product lifecycle management (PLM) systems to trace the history of each component of the UAS along its lifecycle stages in case of any accidents or incidents.
Roy and Li saw a need for software that would integrate PLM concepts with necessary data analytics tools, Internet-of-Things functionality and UAS operating systems to provide a full spectrum solution to users who are involved in custom-made UAS development and operations.
From there, a smart software system would be able to access and evaluate a UAS’ autonomous and intelligent decisions based on real-time activity data collected throughout its lifecycle. “One data source is related to the UAS itself, the flight logs, vibration data, battery and rotor data; UAS developers need to analyze that data to better tune performance,” says Li.
“The platform we are developing would collect and aggregate a UAS’ information related to all its lifecycle activities under one umbrella, and help extract knowledge from data to make intelligent decisions” says Roy. “It is a platform where you can feed back all this data for analysis.”
Roy and Li say their new company, UsPLM, will provide user friendly, affordable and customizable software that will help UAS users and manufacturers sort through the massive amount of data related to the UAS development and operations.
The UsPLM platform has another important benefit for UAS manufacturers. If the software and services being developed by UsPLM are integrated in the national UAS systems, individual drones could contribute to a large data set that can identify potential device or software flaws, or necessary recalls.
“A system to analyze everything from design to operations,” says Li. “Data analytics is a key enabler for the advancement and safety of UAS technology.”
Roy’s research group is also working on UAS fleet technology and customizable sensor options for UAS models. In April, each of the six Genius NY finalists will pitch their technologies and their business plan to a panel of judges. The teams will be competing for one of three grand prize investments— $1 million, $600,000 and $400,000. The remaining three runner-up teams will each receive a $250,000 investment.
Roy and Li are grateful for the help and support they received from the College of Engineering & Computer Science and the Center for Advanced Systems and Engineering (CASE) at Syracuse University. They also plan to work with the Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship program at Syracuse University and colleagues at the Whitman School of Management in developing the business plan for UsPLM.
“We couldn’t do it alone,” says Roy.