LKC FES lecturer secured the UK-ASEAN Institutional Links Early Career Researchers Scheme 

Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science lecturer Ir Ts Dr Tham Mau Luen and his team secured the UK-ASEAN Institutional Links Early Career Researchers (ILECR) Scheme worth £45,379 for their research project titled "AI-Powered Security and Privacy in UAV-Communication Systems (SYRACUSE)". The UK-ASEAN ILECR Scheme was funded by British Council (UK).

Dr Tham’s project is a joint collaboration between UTAR (Malaysia) and London South Bank University (UK), In this project, Dr Tham will be collaborating with Dr Yongxu Zhu and Prof Tasos Dagiuklas from London South Bank University; Ts Ir Dr Nordin Ramli from MIMOS Berhad and Erin Hoo from Drone Academy Asia for the research project.

One of the ECRs' criteria includes having a PhD or equivalent research experience. Under this programme, the ECRs of the UK and Malaysia will be mentored by the respective supervisors of the host institution.

“Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been widely adopted in wireless communications, thanks to their line-of-sight (LoS) air-to-ground links and high manoeuvrability. Generally, UAVs can be either deployed as mobile relays for coverage extension or operated as aerial mobile terminals within a wireless network.  However, UAV communications are prone to security attacks due to the broadcast nature of wireless channels. The eavesdroppers must be prevented from decoding any message intended for legitimate users to guarantee secrecy performance. This project aims to enhance the secrecy performance of UAV communications by leveraging the joint optimisation of trajectory and UAV communication resources combined with artificial intelligence techniques. Armed with secured UAV networks, the project outcome can improve smart city services, including urban mobility optimisation, video analytics warnings to identify incidents, and situation awareness regarding security events that must be sent to authorities,” said Dr Tham.

Dr Tham shared, “I am honoured to be part of the Malaysia-UK team and grateful for the UK-ASEAN Institutional Links Early Career Researchers Scheme grant. This is my second time being a principal investigator in an international research grant. It inspires me to continue seeking research collaboration and meaningful partnership with institutions globally.”

The research project is related to the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals, build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation (Goal 9) whereby the proposed UAV secured communications can contribute to the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox, where UAV-related solutions and technologies will be developed, tested, certified, manufactured, commercialised, and maintained to benefit drone stakeholders. Apart from that, the pre-requisite for utilising UAV technology for sustainable urban development is the safety and security of unmanned air services, which is aligned with the goal of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia and the UNSDG Goal 11 which make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. In addition, the research project is also aligned with the UNSDG Goal 17, to promote development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries through joint research collaboration between Malaysia and UK institutions. The project impact is maximised by having two associated partners from Malaysia. The first one is MIMOS Berhad, which is the National Applied R&D Centre in ICT while the second one is Drone Academy Asia, one which makes use of drone technology.

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