Advances in low-cost low-power silicon radio frequency (RF) integrated circuits (ICs) in the last two decades have opened up the commercial applications for millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies which are an order of magnitude beyond those used in WiFi and cellular today. Large-scale deployment of mmWave communication networks, such as NextG cellular infrastructure outdoors and NextG WiFi infrastructure indoors, implies that these resources can be leveraged for RF imaging at scales that are not otherwise possible. This project seeks to lay the intellectual foundations for Joint Communication and Imaging (JCAI) at city scales using this emerging mmWave infrastructure. Each sensor in such a system provides 4D measurements (range, Doppler, azimuth angle and elevation angle) whose resolution improves by going to higher frequencies.

This three-year project (2022-25) is funded by the National Science Foundation under grant CNS-2215646.  It is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between research leaders in communications & MIMO radar and imaging, robotics for communication and sensing, RFIC design and packaging for  massive mmWave MIMO arrays, and large-scale programmable networks for communications and sensing.

Technical Approach

We take advantage of 4D measurements (range, Doppler, azimuth and elevation angles) at unprecedented resolution: higher carrier frequencies enhance Doppler resolution; larger bandwidths enhance range resolution; tiny carrier wavelengths make it possible to compactly realize 2D antenna arrays with a large number of elements, enhancing azimuth and elevation angular resolution. The key aspects of our technical plan are as follows:

(1) Significantly increased imaging resolution by creating large effective apertures with networked collaboration, using the scale provided by a fixed wireless infrastructure, along with strategic use of unmanned vehicles;

(2) Developing a control plane for multi-function network operation for JCAI, including a resource management framework based on concepts such as imaging demand and imaging capacity, and protocols supporting collaborative imaging;

(3) Developing platforms for experimentation in JCAI based on off-the-shelf mmWave hardware at 60 and 77 GHz, as well as hardware beyond 100 GHz developed under other programs.

Project Team


Graduate students and postdocs


  • A. Pallaprolu, B. Korany and Y. Mostofi, "Analysis of Keller Cones for RF Imaging," 2023 IEEE Radar Conference (RadarConf23), San Antonio, TX, USA, 2023, pp. 1-6, doi: 10.1109/RadarConf2351548.2023.10149785.
  • S. M. Farrell, Vivek Boominathan, Nathaniel Raymondi, Ashutosh Sabharwal, Ashok Veeraraghavan, “CoIR: Compressive Implicit Radar,” IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (TPAMI). (to be presented at ICCP 2023)

Code repositories

  • FusionSense: This repository contains the source code for the FusionSense team as a part of UC Santa Barbara's Electrical Engineering Senior Design Capstone project.
  • Compressive MIMO for Extended Targets: This repository contains the source code for extended target modeling for compressive MIMO radar.

Broader Impact

The increasingly used term Joint Communication and Sensing (JCAS) reflects an emerging consensus that next-generation wireless networks should be multi-function, supporting both communication and sensing at scale.  Our vision of JCAI provides a concrete shape to this trend, viewing imaging as a layered network service analogous to data communication, and pushing the limits of resolution and energy efficiency so as to make it attractive to deploy this service at scale. The concepts and methods we develop have potential impact in a vast array of applications, including vehicular autonomy and road safety, manufacturing automation, indoor and outdoor security, eldercare, and healthcare.  The PIs will work closely with industry partners, building on their strong track record in transitioning mmWave research, to maximize the impact of this research.  UCSB is a minority-serving institution, and we will leverage the diversity of our undergraduate population for recruitment of REU researchers. The proposed research is synergistic with ongoing curriculum reform at UCSB aimed at increasing the flexibility of undergraduates to specialize in sub-disciplines of interest, and will be incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum through courses, capstone projects, and REU projects.