skip to main content

Title: An Integrated Simulation Platform for the Analysis of UAS BVLOS Operations Supported by 4G/5G Communications
Command and control (C2) data links over cellular networks is envisioned to be a reliable communications modality for various types of missions for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The planning of UAS traffic and the provision of cellular communication resources are cross-coupled decisions that should be analyzed together to understand the quality of service such a modality can provide that meets business needs. The key to effective planning is the accurate estimation of communication link quality and the resource usage for a given air traffic requirement. In this work, a simulation and modelling framework is developed that integrates two open-source simulation platforms, Repast Simphony and ns-3, to generate UAS missions over different geographical areas and simulates the provision of 4G/5G cellular network connectivity to support their C2 and mission data links. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first simulator that co-simulates air traffic and cellular network communications for UAS while leveraging standardized 3GPP propagation models and incorporating detailed management of communication channels (i.e., resource blocks) at the cellular base station level. Three experiments were executed to demonstrate how the integrated simulation platform can be used to provide guidelines in communication resource allocation, air traffic management, and mission safety more » management in beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations. « less
; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
2022 Integrated Communication, Navigation and Surveillance Conference (ICNS)
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1 to 12
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. 1. Description of the objectives and motivation for the contribution to ECE education The demand for wireless data transmission capacity is increasing rapidly and this growth is expected to continue due to ongoing prevalence of cellular phones and new and emerging bandwidth-intensive applications that encompass high-definition video, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), intelligent transportation systems (ITS) including autonomous vehicles, and others. Meanwhile, vital military and public safety applications also depend on access to the radio frequency spectrum. To meet these demands, the US federal government is beginning to move from the proven but inefficient model of exclusive frequency assignments to a more-efficient, shared-spectrum approach in some bands of the radio frequency spectrum. A STEM workforce that understands the radio frequency spectrum and applications that use the spectrum is needed to further increase spectrum efficiency and cost-effectiveness of wireless systems over the next several decades to meet anticipated and unanticipated increases in wireless data capacity. 2. Relevant background including literature search examples if appropriate CISCO Systems’ annual survey indicates continued strong growth in demand for wireless data capacity. Meanwhile, undergraduate electrical and computer engineering courses in communication systems, electromagnetics, and networks tend to emphasize mathematical and theoretical fundamentals and higher-layer protocols, withmore »less focus on fundamental concepts that are more specific to radio frequency wireless systems, including the physical and media access control layers of wireless communication systems and networks. An efficient way is needed to introduce basic RF system and spectrum concepts to undergraduate engineering students in courses such as those mentioned above who are unable to, or had not planned to take a full course in radio frequency / microwave engineering or wireless systems and networks. We have developed a series of interactive online modules that introduce concepts fundamental to wireless communications, the radio frequency spectrum, and spectrum sharing, and seek to present these concepts in context. The modules include interactive, JavaScript-based simulation exercises intended to reinforce the concepts that are presented in the modules through narrated slide presentations, text, and external links. Additional modules in development will introduce advanced undergraduate and graduate students and STEM professionals to configuration and programming of adaptive frequency-agile radios and spectrum management systems that can operate efficiently in congested radio frequency environments. Simulation exercises developed for the advanced modules allow both manual and automatic control of simulated radio links in timed, game-like simulations, and some exercises will enable students to select from among multiple pre-coded controller strategies and optionally edit the code before running the timed simulation. Additionally, we have developed infrastructure for running remote laboratory experiments that can also be embedded within the online modules, including a web-based user interface, an experiment management framework, and software defined radio (SDR) application software that runs in a wireless testbed initially developed for research. Although these experiments rely on limited hardware resources and introduce additional logistical considerations, they provide additional realism that may further challenge and motivate students. 3. Description of any assessment methods used to evaluate the effectiveness of the contribution, Each set of modules is preceded and followed by a survey. Each individual module is preceded by a quiz and followed by another quiz, with pre- and post-quiz questions drawn from the same pool. The pre-surveys allow students to opt in or out of having their survey and quiz results used anonymously in research. 4. Statement of results. The initial modules have been and are being used by three groups of students: (1) students in an undergraduate Introduction to Communication Systems course; (2) an interdisciplinary group of engineering students, including computer science students, who are participating in related undergraduate research project; and (3) students in a graduate-level communications course that includes both electrical and computer engineers. Analysis of results from the first group of students showed statistically significant increases from pre-quiz to post-quiz for each of four modules on fundamental wireless communication concepts. Results for the other students have not yet been analyzed, but also appear to show substantial pre-quiz to post-quiz increases in mean scores.« less
  2. With increasing urban population, there is global interest in Urban Air Mobility (UAM), where hundreds of autonomous Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) execute missions in the airspace above cities. Unlike traditional human-inthe-loop air traffic management, UAM requires decentralized autonomous approaches that scale for an order of magnitude higher aircraft densities and are applicable to urban settings. We present Learning-to-Fly (L2F), a decentralized on-demand airborne collision avoidance framework for multiple UAS that allows them to independently plan and safely execute missions with spatial, temporal and reactive objectives expressed using Signal Temporal Logic. We formulate the problem of predictively avoiding collisions between two UAS without violating mission objectives as a Mixed Integer Linear Program (MILP). This however is intractable to solve online. Instead, we develop L2F, a two-stage collision avoidance method that consists of: 1) a learning-based decision-making scheme and 2) a distributed, linear programming-based UAS control algorithm. Through extensive simulations, we show the real-time applicability of our method which is ≈6000× faster than the MILP approach and can resolve 100% of collisions when there is ample room to maneuver, and shows graceful degradation in performance otherwise. We also compare L2F to two other methods and demonstrate an implementation on quad-rotor robots.
  3. The key concept for safe and efficient traffic management for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) is the notion of operation volume (OV). An OV is a 4-dimensional block of airspace and time, which can express an aircraft’s intent, and can be used for planning, de-confliction, and traffic management. While there are several high-level simulators for UAS Traffic Management (UTM), we are lacking a frame- work for creating, manipulating, and reasoning about OVs for heterogeneous air vehicles. In this paper, we address this and present SkyTrakx—a software toolkit for simulation and verification of UTM scenarios based on OVs. First, we illustrate a use case of SkyTrakx by presenting a specific air traffic coordination protocol. This protocol communicates OVs between participating aircraft and an airspace manager for traffic routing. We show how existing formal verification tools, Dafny and Dione, can assist in automatically checking key properties of the protocol. Second, we show how the OVs can be computed for heterogeneous air vehicles like quadcopters and fixed-wing aircraft using another verification technique, namely reachability analysis. Finally, we show that SkyTrakx can be used to simulate complex scenarios involving heterogeneous vehicles, for testing and performance evaluation in terms of workload and response delays analysis. Ourmore »experiments delineate the trade-off between performance and workload across different strategies for generating OVs.« less
  4. The ubiquitous of 5G New Radio (5G NR) accelerates the massive implementations in many fields including swarm Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) networking. The ultra capacities of 5G NR can provide more sufficient networking services for the swarm UAS networking which can enable swarm UAS to deploy in more complex and challenging scenarios to achieve missions. However, the conventional swarm UAS networking are mainly centralized or hierarchical which is vulnerable to the dynamics and the deployment of swarm UAS networking on a large scale. In this paper, we formulate a cell wall communications for the heterogeneous swarm UAS networking with the inspiration of biological cell wall communication. Fueled by reinforcement learning, we resolve the edge-coloring problem of cell wall communication scheduling to achieve the maximum throughput between the heterogeneous swarm UAS networking globally. The evaluation shows our proposed reinforcement learning enabled algorithm can surpass the conventional scheduling algorithms over 90% when the time piece is less than 0.01s and achieve the optimal throughput for the heterogeneous swarm UAS networking.
  5. Weather, winds, thermals, and turbulence pose an ever-present challenge to small UAS. These challenges become magnified in rough terrain and especially within urban canyons. As the industry moves towards Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and fully autonomous operations, resilience to weather perturbations will be key. As the human decision-maker is removed from the in-situ environment, producing control systems that are robust will be paramount to the preservation of any Airspace System. Safety requirements and regulations require quantifiable performance metrics to guarantee a safe aerial environment with ever- increasing traffic. In this regards, the effect of wind and weather disturbances on a UAS and its ability to reject these disturbances present some unique concerns. Currently, drone manufacturers and operators rely on outdoor testing during windy days (or in windy locations) and onboard logging to evaluate and improve the flight worthiness, reliability and perturbation rejection capability of their vehicles. Waiting for the desired weather or travelling to a windier location is cost- and time-inefficient. Moreover, the conditions found on outdoor test sites are difficult to quantify and repeatability is non-existent. To address this situation, a novel testing methodology is proposed, combining artificial wind generation thanks to a multi-fan array wind generatormore »(windshaper), coherent GNSS signal generation and accurate tracking of the test subject thanks to motion capture cameras. In this environment, the drone being tested can fly freely, follow missions and experience wind perturbations whilst staying in a modest indoor volume. By coordinating the windshaper, the motion tracking feedback and the position emulated by the GNSS signal generator with the drone’s mission profile, it was demonstrated that outdoor flight conditions can be reliably recreated in a controlled and repeatable environment. Specifically, thanks to real-time update of the position simulated by the GNSS signal generator, it was possible to demonstrate that the drone’s perception of the situation is similar to a corresponding mission being executed outdoor. In this work, the drone was subjected to three distinct flight cases: (1) hover in 2 m s−1 wind, (2) forward flight at 2 m s−1 without wind and (3) forward flight at 2 m s−1 with 2 m s−1 headwind. In each case, it could be demonstrated that by using indoor GNSS signal simulation and wind generation, the drone displays the characteristics of a 20 m move forward, while actually staying stationary in the test volume, within ±1 m. Further development of this methodology opens the door for fully integrated hardware-in- the-loop simulation of drone flight operations.« less