Robotics: Science and Systems V

Positioning unmanned aerial vehicles as communication relays for surveillance tasks

O. Burdakov, P. Doherty, K. Holmberg, J. Kvarnstrom and P.-R. Olsson


When unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are used to survey distant targets, it is important to transmit sensor information back to a base station. As this communication often requires high uninterrupted bandwidth, the surveying UAV often needs a free line-of-sight to the base station, which can be problematic in urban or mountainous areas. Communication ranges may also be limited, especially for smaller UAVs. Though both problems can be solved through the use of relay chains consisting of one or more intermediate relay UAVs, this leads to a new problem: Where should relays be placed for optimum performance? We present two new algorithms capable of generating such relay chains, one being a dual ascent algorithm and the other a modification of the Bellman-Ford algorithm. As the priorities between the number of steps in the relay chain and the cost of the chain may vary, we calculate chains of different lengths and costs and let the ground operator choose between them. Several different formulations for edge costs are presented. In our test cases, both algorithms are substantially faster than an optimized version of the original Bellman-Ford algorithm, which is used for comparison.



    AUTHOR    = {O. Burdakov AND P. Doherty AND K. Holmberg AND J. Kvarnstrom AND P.-R. Olsson},
    TITLE     = {Positioning unmanned aerial vehicles as communication relays for surveillance tasks},
    BOOKTITLE = {Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems},
    YEAR      = {2009},
    ADDRESS   = {Seattle, USA},
    MONTH     = {June},
    DOI       = {10.15607/RSS.2009.V.033}