Software research team wins prestigious award

Researchers from the Software Systems Research Centre at Bournemouth University (BU) have been presented with a best paper medal by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

The team of Alec Banks, Dr Jonathan Vincent and Dr Keith Phalp were winners of the prestigious Michael Richey Medal for the best article of 2008 in the Journal of Navigation, a world-renowned academic publication.

Their paper: ‘Particle Swarm Guidance System for Autonomous, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in an Air Defence Role’, reflects work within the centre that takes ideas from nature, particularly the behaviour of animals for example, in their search for food.

The paper uses these approaches to produce novel computer programs that are able to solve a variety of real world problems.

In this particular case, the work, which formed part of Alec Banks’ MSc dissertation, applies a variant of a technique called Particle Swarm Optimisation (PSO).

The application area for the paper is that of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which could be used to work cooperatively toward the goal of protecting a wide area against airborne attack.

In effect, this reduces the chance of all UAVs chasing after a target that they cannot hope to intercept (reminiscent of small children playing football) by only allowing UAVs to swarm if they are able to manoeuvre into a position from which they might be able to intercept the target.

Experiment results suggest that the techniques may indeed be of use in autonomous navigation systems for UAVs in air defence roles.

Later work by the authors, also published by the Royal Institute of Navigation, has extended this approach through the addition of a variety of natural search strategies to improve the initial search capability of PSO enabled vehicles.

The awards were presented by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at the AGM of the Royal Institute of Navigation, held at the Royal Geographical Society in London.