The Flying Soda Can

The Flying Soda Can
What flies through the air at 150 miles per hour, transmits video images, and is roughly the size of a soda can? If you’re not sure, ask Khaled Elleithy, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Professor of Computer Science, and Engineering.

In 2008, the University of Bridgeport, together with the University of Hartford, the University of Connecticut, the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology and four other private-sector companies began to develop what became a $2.4 million U.S. Army research project. The multi-organization research group was operated under the auspices of the Applied Nanotechnology Consortium.

Elleithy conducted the research along with Tarek M. Sobh, Ph.D., P.E., Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research, Dean of the School of Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Computer Science, and Hassan Bajwa, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering. “The main goal of the project was to come up with an inexpensive solution to unmanned reconnaissance for military application that could cover more ground and minimize risk to troops,” says Elleithy.

The “flying soda can,” as the Connecticut Post named the device in an article, is officially called an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle—UAV. The main involvement of UB’s team was to develop a miniature camera system and sophisticated computer algorithms to facilitate real-time video transmission from the flying device to a base station. Elleithy explains, “We had to design and develop conformal antennas for the flying device that operate on 2.4 and 5 Gigahertz. We also had to ensure security of communications from third party hacking.”

Research outcomes have a range of possible military and civilian applications, such as surveillance of an area affected by a natural disaster, such as an earthquake. The “flying soda can” is an inexpensive solution to the challenge of capturing and transmitting real-time images withminimum risk to human life. Most of the UB research was conducted through Elleithy’s Wireless and Mobile Communications (WMC) Laboratory, tasked with advancing the state-of-the-art in wireless and mobile communications.