Lassonde project earns top award at Computing Conference 2022

image shows a drone flying at sunset

Many of us are used to receiving delivery packages at our doorstep, but have you ever received a package that was delivered to you by a drone? Students from the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University are working to make this a reality.

Tianpei Liao preparing for the experiment
Tianpei Liao preparing for the experiment

Tianpei Liao, a third-year software engineering student at Lassonde, spent the summer working under the direction of Professor Jinjun Shan and his team of graduate students as part of the Lassonde Undergraduate Summer Research program. Their work in the safe landing of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) earned them the Best Project Demonstration Award at the Computing Conference 2022. Their research paper titled “Autonomous Vision-based UAV Landing with Collision Avoidance using Deep Learning” explores methods to avoid collision and thereby implement safe landing for UAVs.

“Professor Shan is always encouraging us to learn and do what we cannot do, so that we might learn how to do it,” says Liao. “Although research is relatively new to me as an undergraduate student, I received professional and educational guidance from Dr. Shan while conducting research and publishing a conference paper. I truly feel grateful to have the support of Professor Shan and his team.”

UAVs are generating considerable interest among companies such as Amazon and Alibaba to transport packages and essentials such as food and medicine. There is a notable problem with this mode of delivery: the possibility of collision with another UAV due to the lack of vehicle safety communication. To address this issue, Shan’s team developed a deep learning vision-based autonomous landing method where a landing UAV can screen its landing area for an already parked UAV and find a safe spot to land.

Level I and II UAV finishing landing
Level I and II UAV finishing landing

When asked about other challenges that may exist in the application of this idea, Liao highlights two areas that need to be addressed – battery limitation and the latency of the camera to the computer. These issues can be investigated as part of future research that will be conducted at the school.

This award-winning project was made possible by the Lassonde Undergraduate Research Award (LURA) program where undergraduate students can undertake research in the summer under the guidance of Lassonde’s research faculty members.

“This program is an impactful way for students to explore projects that can have real-world application,” says Liao. “I would encourage any student who is interested to get involved and build relationships with faculty members, graduate students and even industry partners through this program.”

Learn more about research opportunities for students at Lassonde by visiting the Lassonde School of Engineering website.