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Dr. Saad Leads a New Project on Laying Groundwork for the Internet of Battlefield Things


By integrating smart devices on the battlefield, military strategists are tapping into the Internet of Things to hone their tactics. The massive deployment of devices like sensors, wearables, autonomous probabilistic vehicles, and drones is expected to transform tomorrow's military battlefields into a large-scale Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) ecosystem.

Walid Saad, the Stephen O. Lane Junior Faculty Fellow and assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, and Naren Ramakrishnan, the Thomas L. Phillips Professor of Engineering and director of the Discovery Analytics Center in the Department of Computer Science, are leading the $324,000 Army Research Laboratory grant. They are developing a planning framework that would present mathematical tools to understand how to transform existing battlefield capabilities into a large-scale IoBT.

The project, entitled "Optimal Placement of Things in an Adversarial Internet of Battlefield Things," will focus how, when, and where to strategically deploy and operate a number of different smart devices in an integrated IoBT.

"This research will marry notions from data analytics, information theory, game theory, and distributed learning, " said Saad. "But in order to craft a strong deployment strategy, we have to juggle a number of complex variables."

These variables include heterogeneous sets of data sources, the rapidly shifting makeup of the battlefield environment, the wide-ranging capabilities of smart items, the need to account for human behavior on the battlefield, and the adversarial nature of the IoBT due to the possibility of malicious attacks.

To overcome these challenges, the team will develop the first comprehensive data-driven framework for optimizing the placement of "things" within a large-scale battlefield environment. The proposed framework will expedite the deployment of the IoBT by providing precise guidelines on how, when, and where to place the various smart devices in relation to enemy forces.

"This research will enable military strategists to leverage massive battlefield data sets and lay the foundations of tomorrow's IoBT," said Saad.