Carnegie Mellon University

photo of swarun

Pushing the Limits of Low-Power Wide-Area Networks

Carnegie Mellon University faculty member Swarun Kumar has received the National Science Foundation CAREER award for his work on Pushing the Limits of Low-Power Wide-Area Networks. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Kumar’s research interests are in the area of computer networks with a special focus on wireless networks and mobile systems. Recent years have witnessed an explosive growth in wireless connectivity, enabling a host of new applications and services. His research designs and builds systems that address fundamental technical challenges impeding the growth of wireless networks. It explores new connections between wireless networking and other disciplines, such as robotics, radar, computer vision, security and signal processing.

In his work with Metro21, Kumar identified that future smart cities will have to provide internet connectivity to millions of energy-starved Internet-of-Things devices - even those several miles away from the nearest wireless base station. To this end, recent years have seen novel Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LP-WANs) deployed, such as LoRa and NB-IoT.

Unfortunately, today’s LP-WAN technologies require a battery to power these devices, which impacts their maintenance cost and reliability. Kumar’s project aims to develop a city-scale LP-WAN architecture that offloads connectivity, sensing and even the source of energy to the more capable base stations and cloud infrastructure.

The team developed an architecture where base stations actively collaborate to enable faster and more reliable connectivity to low-power devices, sense their location and surroundings and provide energy they require to operate in the first place.

Congratulations Swarun!