The Office of Naval Research (ONR) recently awarded a two-year contract to the Villanova University Center for Advanced Communications (CAC), in collaboration with the Naval Air (NAVAIR) Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, NJ, to help the United States Navy achieve autonomous deck operation by accurate localization of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on carrier flight decks. Controlled automation for UAVs taxiing before launch and after landing will help the ONR meet its goal of reducing manpower on the flight deck for both cost savings and safety/health purposes.  The project’s principal investigator is Dr. Yimin Zhang, CAC research professor and director of both the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Lab and the Wireless Communications and Positioning Lab. The CAC will receive $312,000 from the ONR to perform this work.

This is the third defense project Dr. Zhang has received in the past 12 months. In June 2013, he served as the Principal Investigator of a three-year $450,000 contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop novel signal processing techniques for improved moving target detection, localization and tracking using multi-static passive radars. Dr. Zhang is also a Co-Principal Investigator, with CAC Director Dr. Moeness Amin (principal investigator), and Dr. Fauzia Ahmad (co-principal investigator), director of the Radar Imaging Lab, of a five-year $750,000 ONR grant to develop co-prime frequency and aperture design for high-frequency surveillance, wideband radar imaging and nonstationary array processing techniques, commenced in February 2013.

“I am very pleased that our NAVAIR proposal was strongly favored in this highly competitive Navy program, and that we have been given the opportunity to help the U.S. Navy make its on-deck operations safer and more efficient,” says Dr. Zhang. “I believe that this joint research effort will also strengthen the current education partnership between Villanova and NAVAIR.”

Dr. Zhang is internationally recognized for his expertise in signal processing with broad applications to wireless communications, radar, RFID and navigation. He has authored more than 200 journal articles, book chapters and peer-reviewed conference papers on these topics. He is a senior member of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the International Society of Optics and Photonics (SPIE). Dr. Zhang serves on the editorial board of Signal Processing and is an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing.