UoB Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Peter Smith, Victoria University of Wellington

Peter Smith bmvp July 2018Stochastic processes and mobility models for drones (unmanned aerial vehicles)

30 June - 2 August 2018


Peter Smith received the BSc degree in Mathematics and the PhD degree in Statistics from the University of London, London, U.K., in 1983 and 1988, respectively. From 1983 to 1986 he was with the Telecommunications Laboratories at GEC Hirst Research Centre. From 1988 to 2001 he was a lecturer in statistics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. From 2001-2015 he worked in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Canterbury, becoming a Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2013. In 2015 he joined Victoria University of Wellington as Professor of Statistics. His research interests include the statistical aspects of design, modelling and analysis for communication systems, information theory, stochastic processes and applied probability. He has published over 100 journal articles and over 100 conference papers, including four prize-winning papers and one paper with over 1200 citations. In addition to his work at Victoria University of Wellington, he holds two professorial positions: Honorary Professor in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Queens University Belfast and Adjunct Professor at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. Recent awards include: Distinguished Visiting Fellowship funded by the UK based Royal Academy of Engineering at Queens University Belfast (2017); the Royal Society of New Zealand James Cook Research Fellowship (2017-2019); elected Fellow of the IEEE (2015): Erskine Visitor in the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford (2014). In addition to fundamental research, he also works with industry and international standards bodies including consulting and research contracts with Huawei, Intel, Vodafone, Ericsson, GSMA London, Telecom NZ and the International Telecommunication Union.

Project Summary

Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are of growing interest in a range of areas such as disaster relief, search and rescue and utility management such as power line monitoring. In addition, UAVs are now being envisaged for high precision agriculture including vine pruning. Despite the progress made in the engineering and control aspects of UAVs, there is limited understanding of the statistical aspects of mobility for UAVs, such as fluctuations in position while a UAV attempts to maintain a fixed location. The UAVs operate in a fundamentally noisy environment, with wind, air pressure and humidity acting as external random factors. In addition, the on-board navigational sensors including GPS provide internal sources of error. As a result, there is a need to model the random mobility of UAVs and also to provide models which include the control mechanism of the UAV. Such models may be used to answer the following fundamental questions: how much energy does a particular control mechanism require? How long is it before a UAV deviates from its desired position by a target distance, what proportion of time does a UAV remain in a certain operating one? In order to answer these questions, we propose to build on the classic three dimensional Fokker–Planck equation, where the drift term can be used to model the control mechanism. In the case of the well-known Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process, this corresponds to a UAV that moves with velocity proportional to the displacement form its desired position. This is a reasonable first model but does not include physical features such as a maximum velocity. The project aims to investigate extensions to this model that allow performance analysis and satisfy the physical constraints of the on-board control mechanism.

Professor Smith’s visit is being hosted by Professor Carl Dettmann (Mathematics) and will feature the following lectures and seminars :

Wednesday 18th July, 2 pm, Level 4 Seminar Room, Howard House
Public Lecture
Smart phones and statistics – where is the connection?

Monday 23rd July, 2 pm, Level 4 Seminar Room, Howard House
Graduate Student Seminar
Random matrices in wireless communication

Wednesday 26th July, 2 pm, Level 4 Seminar Room, Howard House
Departmental Lecture
Asymptotics of large communication systems

 Howare House is located at the corner of Queens Avenue and Elmdale Road, BS8 1SD.