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Wireless technologies for small drone systems

A new article published in the IEEE Communications Magazine discusses some aspects of wireless communications for different applications involving small drones.

Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) (aka drones) are more and more used in civil applications, for example, in disaster situations to provide rescue teams with up-to-date aerial photos. The wireless communications to UAVs and between UAVs is an important building block in such systems.

Search and rescue with UAVs: Multiple UAVs are deployed to search for a lost person by taking pictures from the air and sending them to the ground station. If the missing person is found, a network connection between the person and the ground station is established for communication. The key multi-UAV functionalities are illustrated by colored arrows.

Search and rescue with UAVs

Researchers from U Klagenfurt, U Toronto, ETH Zürich, and the German Aerospace Center discuss the state-of-the-art on wireless communications for UAV systems along with directions for research and development in the May issue of the IEEE Communications Magazine. “We evaluated the suitability of today’s wireless technologies for their use in UAV systems,” Torsten Andre, a PhD student with Christian Bettstetter, explains. “To do so, we took a top-down approach, starting from the application and deriving communication requirements for the wireless network on a search and rescue mission.” Measurements of experimental aerial networks were analyzed with respect to the requirements including achievable transmission delay and throughput.


Torsten Andre, Karin A. Hummel, Angela P. Schoellig, Evşen Yanmaz, Mahdi Asadpour, Christian Bettstetter, Pasquale Grippa, Hermann Hellwagner, Stephan Sand, Siwei Zhang. Application-Driven Design of Aerial Communication Networks. IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 52, no. 5, pp. 129–137, May 2014.