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Distributed transmit beamforming (DTBF) can allow a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to send a common message to a distant target. DTBF among N nodes can provide N 2 times the received power compared to a single node and can reduce interference by confining the signal in a certain direction. However, DTBF requires time, frequency, and phase synchronization. Here, we focus on the issue of phase incoherence at the distributed transmit nodes from two sources—different local oscillators (LOs) and hovering position movement—and how to counteract their impact at the receiver via local decisions, namely, rotation. To investigate how the UAV body and its rotation can affect phase coherency, we conduct controlled in-field experiments where we control the phase offset at two distributed antennas and measure the received signal level at four antenna positions on a drone for various rotation angles. We show that significant improvements can be achieved at the receiver through rotation. We also show that there exists an optimal combination of UAV rotation angle and antenna position on the drone to mitigate the effects of phase incoherence among the distributed transmitters. Finally, we demonstrate an interesting trade-off where, due to the heterogeneous nature of the UAV body,more »
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) often lack the size, weight, and power to support large antenna arrays or a large number of radio chains. Despite such limitations, emerging applications that require the use of swarms, where UAVs form a pattern and coordinate towards a common goal, must have the capability to transmit in any direction in three-dimensional (3D) space from moment to moment. In this work, we design a measurement study to evaluate the role of antenna polarization diversity on UAV systems communicating in arbitrary 3D space. To do so, we construct flight patterns where one transmitting UAV is hovering at a high altitude (80 m) and a receiving UAV hovers at 114 different positions that span 3D space at a radial distance of approximately 20 m along equally-spaced elevation and azimuth angles. To understand the role of diverse antenna polarizations, both UAVs have a horizontally-mounted antenna and a vertically-mounted antenna-each attached to a dedicated radio chain-creating four wireless channels. With this measurement campaign, we seek to understand how to optimally select an antenna orientation and quantify the gains in such selections.