Indoor drone research takes flight for UNI student

Indoor drone research takes flight for UNI student

Anna Flanders /

Undergraduate research often conjures images of students in lab coats working with beakers, but undergraduate research takes many forms. For Tanzeel Ur Rehman, a senior majoring in computer science, his year-long undergraduate research project involved flying small drones the size of half of the palm of someone’s hand.  

The 2023 IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications Workshops (or PerCom), which has an acceptance rate of less than 10%, published this research earlier this year as part of PerSASN workshop. Rehman worked on this project under the supervision of Assistant Professor of Computer Science Dheryta Jaisinghani.  “We submitted the paper, and Dr. Jaisinghani told me it is a really selective conference, so if it didn’t get selected to not be too discouraged,” said Rehman, who is from Pakistan. “But it did, and I was really surprised.”

Jaisinghani has spent extensive time researching wireless communications for drones. In the past, she’s worked heavily on outdoor drones that provide 5G communications. When she came to UNI, she wanted to continue this research with indoor drones. Their small size limits the network’s range, typically to just a few meters. To increase this range, Jaisinghani focused on using a flying network of drones. The premise of the research entitled “IoT in the Air: Thread-Enabled Flying IoT Network for Indoor Environments” was developing the network and ensuring the network performed well enough to send communications.

Dheryta Jaisinghani holding drone

Ultimately, Jaisinghani and Rehman— with the help of Assistant Professor of Computer Science Andrew Berns and former student Ryan Mulkey — were able to create a network that performed well enough to send small text messages, emails, images and very small videos. According to Jaisinghani, this is important for small-scale disaster scenarios. For example, if a building is on fire, the drones could fly inside the building and send important data to the rescue crew.