Verification of the correct functionality of multi-vehicle systems in high-fidelity scenarios is required before any deployment of such a complex system, e.g., in missions of remote sensing or in mobile sensor networks. Mixed-reality simulations where both virtual and physical entities can coexist and interact have been shown to be beneficial for development, testing, and verification of such systems. This paper deals with the problems of designing a certain communication subsystem for such highly desirable realistic simulations. Requirements of this communication subsystem, including proper addressing, transparent routing, visibility modeling, or message management, are specified prior to designing an appropriate solution. Then, a suitable architecture of this communication subsystem is proposed together with solutions to the challenges that arise when simultaneous virtual and physical message transmissions occur. The proposed architecture can be utilized as a high-fidelity network simulator for vehicular systems with implicit mobility models that are given by real trajectories of the vehicles. The architecture has been utilized within multiple projects dealing with the development and practical deployment of multi-UAV systems, which support the architecture’s viability and advantages. The provided experimental results show the achieved similarity of the communication characteristics of the fully deployed hardware setup to the setup utilizing the proposed mixed-reality architecture.
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