Electrical and Computer Engineering Seminar Series

Drones to the rescue (Or why a drone may one day save your life)


Dr Graeme Woodward


Research Leader, Wireless Research Centre, University of Canterbury

Time & Place

Fri, 14 Sep 2018 14:00:00 NZST in Link 301 Lecture Theatre


Increasingly people are carrying, wearing and even implanting wireless-enabled devices including biometric and medical sensors. These can form a wireless body area network (BAN), e.g. a network formed between a wrist-band, heart-rate strap, foot-mounted accelerometer and a smart phone. Collectively these measure vital signals to help infer the person’s physiological and psychological state. The future ubiquity of such wireless BANs creates an opportunity to improve response to wide-scale incidents such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, or building collapse where search, rescue and paramedic assistance are imperatives.

Both New Zealand and Japan have suffered wide-scale disasters: the 2010/11 Christchurch earthquakes and the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami and power station accident. The Royal Society of NZ and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science have funded a joint research programme between the University of Canterbury and Yokohama National University.

We are working towards a vision for a network of co-operating unmanned aerial vehicles tasked with identifying the locations and health state of casualties using a combination of methods, including detection of radio signatures associated with each person from their wireless BANs. The University of Canterbury team has focussed on discovery of wireless devices. The team has compared numerous detection strategies, including energy detection, matched filtering and spectral correlation density (SCD) analysis, exploiting the cyclostationary structure man-made wireless signals.


Dr Graeme Woodward is the Research Leader of the Wireless Research Centre, University of Canterbury. Prior to joining UC in 2011, he was Research Manager for Toshiba’s European Telecommunications Research Lab working closely with the University of Bristol on a range of corporate and EU-funded research projects. Before that he worked as a researcher with LSI Logic and Agere Systems supporting chip design for mobile phone technologies. He was part of the Lucent/Bell Labs Australia team which in 2003 pioneered silicon designs for MIMO (multi-antenna) reception of 3G cellular data. Graeme has BSc, Engineering and PhD degrees from the University of Sydney, and has authored more than 50 publications and 12 patents.