Portland State researchers receive $1M in NSF grants to improve wireless networks, automotive systems
Author: Summer Allen
Posted: October 16, 2019
 Three Portland State computer science professors have received grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study ways to improve wireless networks and automotive systems. 
Ehsan Aryafar, assistant professor of computer science, received a $250,000 grant to make the next generation of wireless networks work more efficiently.

As smartphones and wearable devices become more and more popular and new wireless devices such as connected vehicles and virtual and augmented reality systems come online, wireless networks will need to be able to handle larger amounts of mobile data. This three-year grant aims to improve the user experience and reliability of existing and future mobile devices by increasing wireless network capacity. 

The PSU research team plans to work closely with industry partners, according to the grant proposal, and involve both undergraduate and underrepresented populations in their research to encourage them to enter science and engineering fields.

 Suresh Singh, professor of computer science, received a $499,370 grant to develop new technology for very high bandwidth wireless connections by exploiting the terahertz frequency band (100 GHz to 2,000 GHz).

Users of emerging technologies such as self-driving cars, real-time transfer of digital video to the cloud and immersive virtual reality (VR) for remote surgery will require higher bandwidth connections than are currently available. “All of these applications require extremely high wireless data rates that cannot be delivered by any of the present-day wireless technologies,” wrote Singh in his grant proposal. PSU is one of the few institutions with the capability to study the terahertz band for communications and this is the third NSF grant awarded to Singh for this work.

This three-year grant will be used to develop wireless connections that are able to transfer data at higher rates of up to terabit/second.

“The benefits to society are many including enabling true remote health care, enhancing safety of autonomous vehicles, and providing very high bandwidth wireless connections that can form the basis for a whole class of new applications in future generation wireless networks,” Singh wrote in his grant proposal.

 Fei Xie, professor of computer science, received a $244,972 grant to improve automotive security, safety and reliability. 

Modern vehicles are increasingly relying on complex electronic systems. As these systems increase in complexity, car manufacturers will no longer be able to rely on human expertise to identify security risks. This three-year grant will bring together research from machine intelligence, decision science and security to create new ways of ensuring the security of computerized vehicle systems. 

“This project promises transformative technical and societal impacts through drastically improved safety, security, and reliability of diverse cyber-physical systems in general and automotive systems in particular,” Xie wrote in the grant proposal.  

Results from this research will also be integrated into graduate and undergraduate courses at Portland State, and Xie and his colleagues will develop hands-on training modules for high school and undergraduate students based on this research. 

To further research in this area, all the tools and data generated through this project will be made publically available, according to the grant proposal. Additionally, Xie and colleagues will create a new workshop that will bring together experts in automotive safety, security and reliability.