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Drones, Volume 7, Issue 5 (May 2023) – 54 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Drone technology is gaining popularity due to the increasing demand for quick and efficient delivery services in urban areas, especially with the growth in e-commerce businesses. Delivering packages to multi-story apartment buildings, however, presents a unique challenge due to the limited landing area and the need for precise navigation. Last-mile delivery in apartments with balconies is in high demand due to the potential to save time, avoid traffic congestion, and reduce delivery costs. This research optimizes drone delivery using vertical grid screening and includes an architecture for vertical marker detection and the fast and accurate YOLO model. The tested system shows high accuracy and low detection time, making it a promising solution for last-mile delivery in urban areas with multi-story apartments. View this paper
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17 pages, 1001 KiB  
Article
Performance Analysis of Multi-Hop Flying Mesh Network Using Directional Antenna Based on β-GPP
by Shenghong Qin, Laixian Peng, Renhui Xu, Xianglin Wei, Xingchen Wei and Dan Jiang
Drones 2023, 7(5), 335; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050335 - 22 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1341
Abstract
Maintaining high system performance is critical for a multi-hop flying mesh network (FlyMesh) to perform missions in different environments. Although the Poisson point process (PPP) has been widely used for the performance analysis of FlyMesh, it still has flaws in describing the spatial [...] Read more.
Maintaining high system performance is critical for a multi-hop flying mesh network (FlyMesh) to perform missions in different environments. Although the Poisson point process (PPP) has been widely used for the performance analysis of FlyMesh, it still has flaws in describing the spatial distribution of the UAVs since it does not restrict the minimum distance between them. The spatial deployment of FlyMesh varies depending on the environment. Considering the relevance and practicality, we modeled the multi-hop FlyMesh using the β-Ginibre point process (β-GPP) and equipped each UAV with a directional antenna. Under the condition of the decode-and-forward protocol, we derived the connection probability and ergodic capacity of a multi-hop FlyMesh utilizing the Laplace transform of interference. Then, we calculated an approximate expression for the interference Laplace transform based on the diagonal approximation and further obtained the coverage probability. Finally, the numerical simulation results verified the correctness of the theoretical derivation, indicating that it is possible to optimize the system’s performance based on the expressions derived in this paper. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wireless Networks and UAV)
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26 pages, 6026 KiB  
Article
An ETA-Based Tactical Conflict Resolution Method for Air Logistics Transportation
by Chenglong Li, Wenyong Gu, Yuan Zheng, Longyang Huang and Xuejun Zhang
Drones 2023, 7(5), 334; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050334 - 22 May 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1433
Abstract
Air logistics transportation has become one of the most promising markets for the civil drone industry. However, the large flow, high density, and complex environmental characteristics of urban scenes make tactical conflict resolution very challenging. Existing conflict resolution methods are limited by insufficient [...] Read more.
Air logistics transportation has become one of the most promising markets for the civil drone industry. However, the large flow, high density, and complex environmental characteristics of urban scenes make tactical conflict resolution very challenging. Existing conflict resolution methods are limited by insufficient collision avoidance success rates when considering non-cooperative targets and fail to take the temporal constraints of the pre-defined 4D trajectory into consideration. In this paper, a novel reinforcement learning-based tactical conflict resolution method for air logistics transportation is designed by reconstructing the state space following the risk sectors concept and through the use of a novel Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA)-based temporal reward setting. Our contributions allow a drone to integrate the temporal constraints of the 4D trajectory pre-defined in the strategic phase. As a consequence, the drone can successfully avoid non-cooperative targets while greatly reducing the occurrence of secondary conflicts, as demonstrated by the numerical simulation results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Unmanned Traffic Management Systems)
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19 pages, 6120 KiB  
Article
MGFNet: A Progressive Multi-Granularity Learning Strategy-Based Insulator Defect Recognition Algorithm for UAV Images
by Zhouxian Lu, Yong Li and Feng Shuang
Drones 2023, 7(5), 333; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050333 - 22 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1293
Abstract
Due to the low efficiency and safety of a manual insulator inspection, research on intelligent insulator inspections has gained wide attention. However, most existing defect recognition methods extract abstract features of the entire image directly by convolutional neural networks (CNNs), which lack multi-granularity [...] Read more.
Due to the low efficiency and safety of a manual insulator inspection, research on intelligent insulator inspections has gained wide attention. However, most existing defect recognition methods extract abstract features of the entire image directly by convolutional neural networks (CNNs), which lack multi-granularity feature information, rendering the network insensitive to small defects. To address this problem, we propose a multi-granularity fusion network (MGFNet) to diagnose the health status of the insulator. An MGFNet includes a traversal clipping module (TC), progressive multi-granularity learning strategy (PMGL), and region relationship attention module (RRA). A TC effectively resolves the issue of distortion in insulator images and can provide a more detailed diagnosis for the local areas of insulators. A PMGL acquires the multi-granularity features of insulators and combines them to produce more resilient features. An RRA utilizes non-local interactions to better learn the difference between normal features and defect features. To eliminate the interference of the UAV images’ background, an MGFNet can be flexibly combined with object detection algorithms to form a two-stage object detection algorithm, which can accurately identify insulator defects in UAV images. The experimental results show that an MGFNet achieves 91.27% accuracy, outperforming other advanced methods. Furthermore, the successful deployment on a drone platform has enabled the real-time diagnosis of insulators, further confirming the practical applications value of an MGFNet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Resilient UAV Autonomy and Remote Sensing)
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21 pages, 2032 KiB  
Article
Safe Reinforcement Learning for Transition Control of Ducted-Fan UAVs
by Yanbo Fu, Wenjie Zhao and Liu Liu
Drones 2023, 7(5), 332; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050332 - 22 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1877
Abstract
Ducted-fan tail-sitter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide versatility and unique benefits, attracting significant attention in various applications. This study focuses on developing a safe reinforcement learning method for back-transition control between level flight mode and hover mode for ducted-fan tail-sitter UAVs. Our method [...] Read more.
Ducted-fan tail-sitter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide versatility and unique benefits, attracting significant attention in various applications. This study focuses on developing a safe reinforcement learning method for back-transition control between level flight mode and hover mode for ducted-fan tail-sitter UAVs. Our method enables transition control with a minimal altitude change and transition time while adhering to the velocity constraint. We employ the Trust Region Policy Optimization, Proximal Policy Optimization with Lagrangian, and Constrained Policy Optimization (CPO) algorithms for controller training, showcasing the superiority of the CPO algorithm and the necessity of the velocity constraint. The transition trajectory achieved using the CPO algorithm closely resembles the optimal trajectory obtained via the well-known GPOPS-II software with the SNOPT solver. Meanwhile, the CPO algorithm also exhibits strong robustness under unknown perturbations of UAV model parameters and wind disturbance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Path Planning, Trajectory Tracking and Guidance for UAVs)
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18 pages, 14520 KiB  
Article
Potential-Field-RRT: A Path-Planning Algorithm for UAVs Based on Potential-Field-Oriented Greedy Strategy to Extend Random Tree
by Tai Huang, Kuangang Fan, Wen Sun, Weichao Li and Haoqi Guo
Drones 2023, 7(5), 331; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050331 - 21 May 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2679
Abstract
This paper proposes a random tree algorithm based on a potential field oriented greedy strategy for the path planning of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Potential-field-RRT (PF-RRT) discards the defect of traditional artificial potential field (APF) algorithms that are prone to fall into local [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a random tree algorithm based on a potential field oriented greedy strategy for the path planning of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Potential-field-RRT (PF-RRT) discards the defect of traditional artificial potential field (APF) algorithms that are prone to fall into local errors, and introduces potential fields as an aid to the expansion process of random trees. It reasonably triggers a greedy strategy based on the principle of field strength descending gradient optimization, accelerating the process of random tree expansion to a better region and reducing path search time. Compared with other optimization algorithms that improve the sampling method to reduce the search time of the random tree, PF-RRT takes full advantage of the potential field without limiting the arbitrariness of random tree expansion. Secondly, the path construction process is based on the principle of triangle inequality for the root node of the new node to improve the quality of the path in one iteration. Simulation experiments of the algorithm comparison show that the algorithm has the advantages of fast acquisition of high-quality initial path solutions and fast optimal convergence in the path search process. Compared with the original algorithm, obtaining the initial solution using PF-RRT can reduce the time loss by 20% to 70% and improve the path quality by about 25%. In addition, the feasibility of PF-RRT for UAV path planning is demonstrated by actual flight test experiments at the end of the experiment. Full article
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22 pages, 6329 KiB  
Article
Model, Control, and Realistic Visual 3D Simulation of VTOL Fixed-Wing Transition Flight Considering Ground Effect
by Erwhin Irmawan, Agus Harjoko and Andi Dharmawan
Drones 2023, 7(5), 330; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050330 - 20 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4224
Abstract
The research topic of VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) fixed wing (VFW) is gaining significant attention, particularly in the transition phase from VTOL to fixed wing and vice versa. One of the latest and most challenging transition strategies is the bird take-off mode, [...] Read more.
The research topic of VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) fixed wing (VFW) is gaining significant attention, particularly in the transition phase from VTOL to fixed wing and vice versa. One of the latest and most challenging transition strategies is the bird take-off mode, where vertical and horizontal take-off is carried out simultaneously, mimicking the behavior of birds. The condition that is rarely considered when taking off is the ground effect. Under natural conditions, a ground effect is bound to occur, which can significantly impact the stability of the transition when the VFW is close to the ground. This paper addresses this issue by proposing a model and control strategy and conducting realistic visual 3D simulations of the VFW transition that incorporates ground effect using full complex aerodynamic parameters. This research represents a novel approach, using the robot operating system (ROS) and Gazebo to conduct realistic visual 3D simulations for VFW transition. The linear quadratic regulator (LQR) control method is used to manage the transitions and compensate for any disturbances. The flight tests demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed model and controller in executing flight missions using the bird take-off mode transition. Moreover, the controller has demonstrated reliability and robustness in compensating for attitude errors induced by ground effects and external disturbances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Drone Design and Development)
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19 pages, 4755 KiB  
Article
Research on Environment Perception System of Quadruped Robots Based on LiDAR and Vision
by Guangrong Chen and Liang Hong
Drones 2023, 7(5), 329; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050329 - 20 May 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2709
Abstract
Due to the high stability and adaptability, quadruped robots are currently highly discussed in the robotics field. To overcome the complicated environment indoor or outdoor, the quadruped robots should be configured with an environment perception system, which mostly contain LiDAR or a vision [...] Read more.
Due to the high stability and adaptability, quadruped robots are currently highly discussed in the robotics field. To overcome the complicated environment indoor or outdoor, the quadruped robots should be configured with an environment perception system, which mostly contain LiDAR or a vision sensor, and SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) is deployed. In this paper, the comparative experimental platforms, including a quadruped robot and a vehicle, with LiDAR and a vision sensor are established firstly. Secondly, a single sensor SLAM, including LiDAR SLAM and Visual SLAM, are investigated separately to highlight their advantages and disadvantages. Then, multi-sensor SLAM based on LiDAR and vision are addressed to improve the environmental perception performance. Thirdly, the improved YOLOv5 (You Only Look Once) by adding ASFF (adaptive spatial feature fusion) is employed to do the image processing of gesture recognition and achieve the human–machine interaction. Finally, the challenge of environment perception system for mobile robot based on comparison between wheeled and legged robots is discussed. This research provides an insight for the environment perception of legged robots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Unmanned System Control and Data Processing)
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41 pages, 3623 KiB  
Article
Sliding Mode Controller with Disturbance Observer for Quadcopters; Experiments with Dynamic Disturbances and in Turbulent Indoor Space
by Yutao Jing, Adam Mirza, Rifat Sipahi and Jose Martinez-Lorenzo
Drones 2023, 7(5), 328; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050328 - 20 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2200
Abstract
In this study, a sliding mode surface controller (SMC) designed for a quadcopter is experimentally tested. The SMC was combined with disturbance observers in six degrees of freedom of the quadcopter to effectively reject external disturbances. While respecting stability conditions all control parameters [...] Read more.
In this study, a sliding mode surface controller (SMC) designed for a quadcopter is experimentally tested. The SMC was combined with disturbance observers in six degrees of freedom of the quadcopter to effectively reject external disturbances. While respecting stability conditions all control parameters were automatically initialized and tuned using a simulation-based offline particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithm, followed by onboard manual fine-tuning. To demonstrate its superiority, the SMC was compared with a PSO-optimized PID controller in terms of agility, stability, and the accurate tracking of hover, rectangular, and figure-eight pattern trajectories. To evaluate its robustness, the SMC controller was extensively tested in a small, enclosed, turbulent space while being subjected to a series of external disturbances, such as hanging payloads and lateral wind. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A UAV Platform for Flight Dynamics and Control System)
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39 pages, 9548 KiB  
Article
Assuring Safe and Efficient Operation of UAV Using Explainable Machine Learning
by Abdulrahman Alharbi, Ivan Petrunin and Dimitrios Panagiotakopoulos
Drones 2023, 7(5), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050327 - 19 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2249
Abstract
The accurate estimation of airspace capacity in unmanned traffic management (UTM) operations is critical for a safe, efficient, and equitable allocation of airspace system resources. While conventional approaches for assessing airspace complexity certainly exist, these methods fail to capture true airspace capacity, since [...] Read more.
The accurate estimation of airspace capacity in unmanned traffic management (UTM) operations is critical for a safe, efficient, and equitable allocation of airspace system resources. While conventional approaches for assessing airspace complexity certainly exist, these methods fail to capture true airspace capacity, since they fail to address several important variables (such as weather). Meanwhile, existing AI-based decision-support systems evince opacity and inexplicability, and this restricts their practical application. With these challenges in mind, the authors propose a tailored solution to the needs of demand and capacity management (DCM) services. This solution, by deploying a synthesized fuzzy rule-based model and deep learning will address the trade-off between explicability and performance. In doing so, it will generate an intelligent system that will be explicable and reasonably comprehensible. The results show that this advisory system will be able to indicate the most appropriate regions for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) operation, and it will also increase UTM airspace availability by more than 23%. Moreover, the proposed system demonstrates a maximum capacity gain of 65% and a minimum safety gain of 35%, while possessing an explainability attribute of 70%. This will assist UTM authorities through more effective airspace capacity estimation and the formulation of new operational regulations and performance requirements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue AAM Integration: Strategic Insights and Goals)
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24 pages, 3480 KiB  
Article
Anomaly Detection for Data from Unmanned Systems via Improved Graph Neural Networks with Attention Mechanism
by Guoying Wang, Jiafeng Ai, Lufeng Mo, Xiaomei Yi, Peng Wu, Xiaoping Wu and Linjun Kong
Drones 2023, 7(5), 326; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050326 - 19 May 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2470
Abstract
Anomaly detection has an important impact on the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, and effective anomaly detection is fundamental to their utilization. Traditional anomaly detection discriminates anomalies for single-dimensional factors of sensing data, which often performs poorly in multidimensional data scenarios due to [...] Read more.
Anomaly detection has an important impact on the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, and effective anomaly detection is fundamental to their utilization. Traditional anomaly detection discriminates anomalies for single-dimensional factors of sensing data, which often performs poorly in multidimensional data scenarios due to weak computational scalability and the problem of dimensional catastrophe, ignoring potential correlations between sensing data and some important information of certain characteristics. In order to capture the correlation of multidimensional sensing data and improve the accuracy of anomaly detection effectively, GTAF, an anomaly detection model for multivariate sequences based on an improved graph neural network with a transformer, a graph attention mechanism and a multi-channel fusion mechanism, is proposed in this paper. First, we added a multi-channel transformer structure for intrinsic pattern extraction of different data. Then, we combined the multi-channel transformer structure with GDN’s original graph attention network (GAT) to attain better capture of features of time series, better learning of dependencies between time series and hence prediction of future values of adjacent time series. Finally, we added a multi-channel data fusion module, which utilizes channel attention to integrate global information and upgrade anomaly detection accuracy. The results of experiments show that the average accuracies of GTAF, the anomaly detection model proposed in this paper, are 92.83% and 96.59% on two datasets from unmanned systems, respectively, which has higher accuracy and computational efficiency compared with other methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in AI for Intelligent Autonomous Systems)
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18 pages, 6727 KiB  
Article
Yield Prediction of Four Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) Cultivars Using Vegetation Indices Based on Multispectral Images from UAV in an Arid Zone of Peru
by David Saravia, Lamberto Valqui-Valqui, Wilian Salazar, Javier Quille-Mamani, Elgar Barboza, Rossana Porras-Jorge, Pedro Injante and Carlos I. Arbizu
Drones 2023, 7(5), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050325 - 19 May 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3043
Abstract
In Peru, common bean varieties adapt very well to arid zones, and it is essential to strengthen their evaluations accurately during their phenological stage by using remote sensors and UAV. However, this technology has not been widely adopted in the Peruvian agricultural system, [...] Read more.
In Peru, common bean varieties adapt very well to arid zones, and it is essential to strengthen their evaluations accurately during their phenological stage by using remote sensors and UAV. However, this technology has not been widely adopted in the Peruvian agricultural system, causing a lack of information and precision data on this crop. Here, we predicted the yield of four beans cultivars by using multispectral images, vegetation indices (VIs) and multiple linear correlations (with 11 VIs) in 13 different periods of their phenological development. The multispectral images were analyzed with two methods: (1) a mask of only the crop canopy with supervised classification constructed with QGIS software; and (2) the grids corresponding to each plot (n = 48) without classification. The prediction models can be estimated with higher accuracy when bean plants reached maximum canopy cover (vegetative and reproductive stages), obtaining higher R2 for the c2000 cultivar (0.942) with the CIG, PCB, DVI, EVI and TVI indices with method 2. Similarly, with five VIs, the camanejo cultivar showed the highest R2 for both methods 1 and 2 (0.89 and 0.837) in the reproductive stage. The models better predicted the yield in the phenological stages V3–V4 and R6–R8 for all bean cultivars. This work demonstrated the utility of UAV tools and the use of multispectral images to predict yield before harvest under the Peruvian arid ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Yield Prediction Using Data from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)
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20 pages, 5710 KiB  
Article
Online Motion Planning for Fixed-Wing Aircraft in Precise Automatic Landing on Mobile Platforms
by Jianjian Liang, Shoukun Wang and Bo Wang
Drones 2023, 7(5), 324; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050324 - 18 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1659
Abstract
This paper proposes the creative idea that an unmanned fixed-wing aircraft should automatically adjust its 3D landing trajectory online to land on a given touchdown point, instead of following a pre-designed fixed glide slope angle or a landing path composed of two waypoints. [...] Read more.
This paper proposes the creative idea that an unmanned fixed-wing aircraft should automatically adjust its 3D landing trajectory online to land on a given touchdown point, instead of following a pre-designed fixed glide slope angle or a landing path composed of two waypoints. A fixed-wing aircraft is a typical under-actuated and nonholonomic constrained system, and its landing procedure—which involves complex kinematic and dynamic constraints—is challenging, especially in some scenarios such as landing on an aircraft carrier, which has a runway that is very short and narrow. The conventional solution of setting a very conservative landing path in advance and controlling the aircraft to follow it without dynamic adjustment of the reference path has not performed satisfactorily due to the variation in initial states and widespread environmental uncertainties. The motion planner shown in this study can adjust an aircraft’s landing trajectory online and guide the aircraft to land at a given fixed or moving point while conforming to the strict constraints. Such a planner is composed of two parts: one is used to generate a series of motion primitives which conform to the dynamic constraints, and the other is used to evaluate those primitives and choose the best one for the aircraft to execute. In this paper, numerical simulations demonstrate that when given a landing configuration composed of position, altitude, and direction, the planner can provide a feasible guidance path for the aircraft to land accurately. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Drone Design and Development)
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17 pages, 6271 KiB  
Article
A Disaster Relief UAV Path Planning Based on APF-IRRT* Fusion Algorithm
by Qifeng Diao, Jinfeng Zhang, Min Liu and Jiaxuan Yang
Drones 2023, 7(5), 323; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050323 - 18 May 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1597
Abstract
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) path planning has increasingly become the key research point for civilian drones to expand their use and enhance their work efficiency. Focusing on offline derivative algorithms, represented by Rapidly-exploring Random Trees (RRT), are widely utilized due to their high [...] Read more.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) path planning has increasingly become the key research point for civilian drones to expand their use and enhance their work efficiency. Focusing on offline derivative algorithms, represented by Rapidly-exploring Random Trees (RRT), are widely utilized due to their high computational efficiency. However, deploying these offline algorithms in complex and changing disaster environments presents its own drawbacks, such as slow convergence speed, poor real-time performance, and uneven generation paths. In this paper, the Artificial Potential Field -Improved Rapidly-exploring Random Trees (APF-IRRT*) path-planning algorithm is proposed, which is applicable to disaster relief UAV cruises. The RRT* algorithm is adapted with adaptive step size and adaptive search range coupled with the APF algorithm for final path-cutting optimization. This algorithm guarantees computational efficiency while giving the target directivity of the extended nodes. Furthermore, this algorithm achieves remarkable progress in solving problems of slow convergence speed and unsmooth path in the UAV path planning and achieves good performance in both offline static and online dynamic environment path planning. Full article
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20 pages, 1828 KiB  
Review
Artificial Intelligence-Based Autonomous UAV Networks: A Survey
by Nurul I. Sarkar and Sonia Gul
Drones 2023, 7(5), 322; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050322 - 16 May 2023
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 9024
Abstract
Recent advancements in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have proven UAVs to be an inevitable part of future networking and communications systems. While many researchers have proposed UAV-assisted solutions for improving traditional network performance by extending coverage and capacity, an in-depth study on aspects [...] Read more.
Recent advancements in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have proven UAVs to be an inevitable part of future networking and communications systems. While many researchers have proposed UAV-assisted solutions for improving traditional network performance by extending coverage and capacity, an in-depth study on aspects of artificial intelligence-based autonomous UAV network design has not been fully explored yet. The objective of this paper is to present a comprehensive survey of AI-based autonomous UAV networks. A careful survey was conducted of more than 100 articles on UAVs focusing on the classification of autonomous features, network resource management and planning, multiple access and routing protocols, and power control and energy efficiency for UAV networks. By reviewing and analyzing the UAV networking literature, it is found that AI-based UAVs are a technologically feasible and economically viable paradigm for cost-effectiveness in the design and deployment of such next-generation autonomous networks. Finally, this paper identifies open research problems in the emerging field of UAV networks. This study is expected to stimulate more research endeavors to build low-cost, energy-efficient, next-generation autonomous UAV networks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Communication)
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17 pages, 1606 KiB  
Article
A Resource-Friendly Certificateless Proxy Signcryption Scheme for Drones in Networks beyond 5G
by Muhammad Asghar Khan, Hosam Alhakami, Insaf Ullah, Wajdi Alhakami, Syed Agha Hassnain Mohsan, Usman Tariq and Nisreen Innab
Drones 2023, 7(5), 321; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050321 - 16 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1436
Abstract
Security and privacy issues were long a subject of concern with drones from the past few years. This is due to the lack of security and privacy considerations in the design of the drone, which includes unsecured wireless channels and insufficient computing capability [...] Read more.
Security and privacy issues were long a subject of concern with drones from the past few years. This is due to the lack of security and privacy considerations in the design of the drone, which includes unsecured wireless channels and insufficient computing capability to perform complex cryptographic algorithms. Owing to the extensive real-time applications of drones and the ubiquitous wireless connection of beyond 5G (B5G) networks, efficient security measures are required to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data. In this article, we proposed a resource-friendly proxy signcryption scheme in certificateless settings. The proposed scheme was based on elliptic curve cryptography (ECC), which has a reduced key size, i.e., 160 bits, and is, therefore, suitable for drones. Using the random oracle model (ROM), the security analysis of the proposed scheme was performed and shown to be secure against well-known attacks. The performance analysis of the proposed scheme was also compared to relevant existing schemes in terms of computation and communication costs. The findings validate the practicability of the proposed scheme. Full article
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14 pages, 4452 KiB  
Article
An Integer Programming Based Approach to Delivery Drone Routing under Load-Dependent Flight Speed
by Mao Nishira, Satoshi Ito, Hiroki Nishikawa, Xiangbo Kong and Hiroyuki Tomiyama
Drones 2023, 7(5), 320; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050320 - 16 May 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1801
Abstract
Delivery drones have been attracting attention as a means of solving recent logistics issues, and many companies are focusing on their practical applications. Many research studies on delivery drones have been active for several decades. Among them, extended routing problems for drones have [...] Read more.
Delivery drones have been attracting attention as a means of solving recent logistics issues, and many companies are focusing on their practical applications. Many research studies on delivery drones have been active for several decades. Among them, extended routing problems for drones have been proposed based on the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP), which is used, for example, in truck vehicle routing problems. In parcel delivery by drones, additional constraints such as battery capacity, payload, and weather conditions need to be considered. This study addresses the routing problem for delivery drones. Most existing studies assume that the drone’s flight speed is constant regardless of the load. On the other hand, some studies assume that the flight speed varies with the load. This routing problem is called the Flight Speed-Aware Traveling Salesman Problem (FSTSP). The complexity of the drone flight speed function in this problem makes it difficult to solve the routing problem using general-purpose mathematical optimization solvers. In this study, the routing problem is reduced to an integer programming problem by using linear and quadratic approximations of the flight speed function. This enables us to solve the problem using general-purpose mathematical optimization solvers. In experiments, we compared the existing and proposed methods in terms of solving time and total flight time. The experimental results show that the proposed method with multiple threads has a shorter solving time than the state-of-the-art method when the number of customers is 17 or more. In terms of total flight time, the proposed methods deteriorate by an average of 0.4% for integer quadratic programming and an average of 1.9% for integer cubic programming compared to state-of-the-art methods. These experimental results show that the quadratic and cubic approximations of the problem have almost no degradation of the solution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Drone Communications)
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24 pages, 2596 KiB  
Article
Advanced Air Mobility Operation and Infrastructure for Sustainable Connected eVTOL Vehicle
by Saba Al-Rubaye, Antonios Tsourdos and Kamesh Namuduri
Drones 2023, 7(5), 319; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050319 - 16 May 2023
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 7053
Abstract
Advanced air mobility (AAM) is an emerging sector in aviation aiming to offer secure, efficient, and eco-friendly transportation utilizing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. These vehicles are designed for short-haul flights, transporting passengers and cargo between urban centers, suburbs, and remote [...] Read more.
Advanced air mobility (AAM) is an emerging sector in aviation aiming to offer secure, efficient, and eco-friendly transportation utilizing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. These vehicles are designed for short-haul flights, transporting passengers and cargo between urban centers, suburbs, and remote areas. As the number of flights is expected to rise significantly in congested metropolitan areas, there is a need for a digital ecosystem to support the AAM platform. This ecosystem requires seamless integration of air traffic management systems, ground control systems, and communication networks, enabling effective communication between AAM vehicles and ground systems to ensure safe and efficient operations. Consequently, the aviation industry is seeking to develop a new aerospace framework that promotes shared aerospace practices, ensuring the safety, sustainability, and efficiency of air traffic operations. However, the lack of adequate wireless coverage in congested cities and disconnected rural communities poses challenges for large-scale AAM deployments. In the immediate recovery phase, incorporating AAM with new air-to-ground connectivity presents difficulties such as overwhelming the terrestrial network with data requests, maintaining link reliability, and managing handover occurrences. Furthermore, managing eVTOL traffic in urban areas with congested airspace necessitates high levels of connectivity to support air routing information for eVTOL vehicles. This paper introduces a novel concept addressing future flight challenges and proposes a framework for integrating operations, infrastructure, connectivity, and ecosystems in future air mobility. Specifically, it includes a performance analysis to illustrate the impact of extensive AAM vehicle mobility on ground base station network infrastructure in urban environments. This work aims to pave the way for future air mobility by introducing a new vision for backbone infrastructure that supports safe and sustainable aviation through advanced communication technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Next Generation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Services)
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15 pages, 888 KiB  
Article
Low-Complexity Three-Dimensional AOA-Cross Geometric Center Localization Methods via Multi-UAV Network
by Baihua Shi, Yifan Li, Guilu Wu, Riqing Chen, Shihao Yan and Feng Shu
Drones 2023, 7(5), 318; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050318 - 12 May 2023
Viewed by 1908
Abstract
The angle of arrival (AOA) is widely used to locate a wireless signal emitter in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) localization. Compared with received signal strength (RSS) and time of arrival (TOA), AOA has higher accuracy and is not sensitive to the time synchronization [...] Read more.
The angle of arrival (AOA) is widely used to locate a wireless signal emitter in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) localization. Compared with received signal strength (RSS) and time of arrival (TOA), AOA has higher accuracy and is not sensitive to the time synchronization of the distributed sensors. However, there are few works focusing on three-dimensional (3-D) scenarios. Furthermore, although the maximum likelihood estimator (MLE) has a relatively high performance, its computational complexity is ultra-high. Therefore, it is hard to employ it in practical applications. This paper proposed two center of inscribed sphere-based methods for 3-D AOA positioning via multiple UAVs. The first method could estimate the source position and angle measurement noise at the same time by seeking the center of an inscribed sphere, called the CIS. Firstly, every sensor measures two angles, the azimuth angle and the elevation angle. Based on that, two planes are constructed. Then, the estimated values of the source position and the angle noise are achieved by seeking the center and radius of the corresponding inscribed sphere. Deleting the estimation of the radius, the second algorithm, called MSD-LS, is born. It is not able to estimate angle noise but has lower computational complexity. Theoretical analysis and simulation results show that proposed methods could approach the Cramér–Rao lower bound (CRLB) and have lower complexity than the MLE. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAVs Communications for 6G)
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20 pages, 7215 KiB  
Article
Study on the Differences between the Extraction Results of the Structural Parameters of Individual Trees for Different Tree Species Based on UAV LiDAR and High-Resolution RGB Images
by Haotian You, Xu Tang, Qixu You, Yao Liu, Jianjun Chen and Feng Wang
Drones 2023, 7(5), 317; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050317 - 10 May 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1396
Abstract
Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) points and high-resolution RGB image-derived points have been successfully used to extract tree structural parameters. However, the differences in extracting individual tree structural parameters among different tree species have not been systematically studied. In this study, LiDAR data [...] Read more.
Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) points and high-resolution RGB image-derived points have been successfully used to extract tree structural parameters. However, the differences in extracting individual tree structural parameters among different tree species have not been systematically studied. In this study, LiDAR data and images were collected using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to explore the differences in digital elevation model (DEM) and digital surface models (DSM) generation and tree structural parameter extraction for different tree species. It was found that the DEMs generated based on both forms of data, LiDAR and image, exhibited high correlations with the field-measured elevation, with an R2 of 0.97 and 0.95, and an RMSE of 0.24 and 0.28 m, respectively. In addition, the differences between the DSMs are small in non-vegetation areas, whereas the differences are relatively large in vegetation areas. The extraction results of individual tree crown width and height based on two kinds of data are similar when all tree species are considered. However, for different tree species, the Cinnamomum camphora exhibits the greatest accuracy in terms of crown width extraction, with an R2 of 0.94 and 0.90, and an RMSE of 0.77 and 0.70 m for LiDAR and image points, respectively. In comparison, for tree height extraction, the Magnolia grandiflora exhibits the highest accuracy, with an R2 of 0.89 and 0.90, and an RMSE of 0.57 and 0.55 m for LiDAR and image points, respectively. The results indicate that both LiDAR and image points can generate an accurate DEM and DSM. The differences in the DEMs and DSMs between the two data types are relatively large in vegetation areas, while they are small in non-vegetation areas. There are significant differences in the extraction results of tree height and crown width between the two data sets among different tree species. The results will provide technical guidance for low-cost forest resource investigation and monitoring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers for Drones in Agriculture and Forestry Section)
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15 pages, 3171 KiB  
Article
Improved Radar Detection of Small Drones Using Doppler Signal-to-Clutter Ratio (DSCR) Detector
by Jiangkun Gong, Jun Yan, Huiping Hu, Deyong Kong and Deren Li
Drones 2023, 7(5), 316; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050316 - 10 May 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3901
Abstract
The detection of drones using radar presents challenges due to their small radar cross-section (RCS) values, slow velocities, and low altitudes. Traditional signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) detectors often fail to detect weak radar signals from small drones, resulting in high “Missed Target” rates due [...] Read more.
The detection of drones using radar presents challenges due to their small radar cross-section (RCS) values, slow velocities, and low altitudes. Traditional signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) detectors often fail to detect weak radar signals from small drones, resulting in high “Missed Target” rates due to the dependence of SNR values on RCS and detection range. To overcome this issue, we propose the use of a Doppler signal-to-clutter ratio (DSCR) detector that can extract both amplitude and Doppler information from drone signals. Theoretical calculations suggest that the DSCR of a target is less dependent on the detection range than the SNR. Experimental results using a Ku-band pulsed-Doppler surface surveillance radar and an X-band marine surveillance radar demonstrate that the DSCR detector can effectively extract radar signals from small drones, even when the signals are similar to clutter levels. Compared to the SNR detector, the DSCR detector reduces missed target rates by utilizing a lower detection threshold. Our tests include quad-rotor, fixed-wing, and hybrid vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drones, with mean SNR values comparable to the surrounding clutter but with DSCR values above 10 dB, significantly higher than the clutter. The simplicity and low radar requirements of the DSCR detector make it a promising solution for drone detection in radar engineering applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligent Recognition and Detection for Unmanned Systems)
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16 pages, 2344 KiB  
Article
A Lightweight Authentication Protocol for UAVs Based on ECC Scheme
by Shuo Zhang, Yaping Liu, Zhiyu Han and Zhikai Yang
Drones 2023, 7(5), 315; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050315 - 9 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2404
Abstract
With the rapid development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), often referred to as drones, their security issues are attracting more and more attention. Due to open-access communication environments, UAVs may raise security concerns, including authentication threats as well as the leakage of location [...] Read more.
With the rapid development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), often referred to as drones, their security issues are attracting more and more attention. Due to open-access communication environments, UAVs may raise security concerns, including authentication threats as well as the leakage of location and other sensitive data to unauthorized entities. Elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) is widely favored in authentication protocol design due to its security and performance. However, we found it still has the following two problems: inflexibility and a lack of backward security. This paper proposes an ECC-based identity authentication protocol LAPEC for UAVs. LAPEC can guarantee the backward secrecy of session keys and is more flexible to use. The time cost of LAPEC was analyzed, and its overhead did not increase too much when compared with other authentication methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multi-UAV Networks)
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16 pages, 4490 KiB  
Article
Noise Impact Assessment of UAS Operation in Urbanised Areas: Field Measurements and a Simulation
by Filip Škultéty, Erik Bujna, Michal Janovec and Branislav Kandera
Drones 2023, 7(5), 314; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050314 - 9 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2326
Abstract
This article’s main topic is an assessment of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) noise pollution in several weight categories according to Regulation (EU) 2019/947 and its impact on the urban environment during regular operation. The necessity of solving the given problem is caused by [...] Read more.
This article’s main topic is an assessment of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) noise pollution in several weight categories according to Regulation (EU) 2019/947 and its impact on the urban environment during regular operation. The necessity of solving the given problem is caused by an increasing occurrence of UASs in airspace and the prospect of introducing unmanned aircraft into broader commercial operations. This work aims to provide an overview of noise measurements of two UAS weight categories under natural atmospheric conditions to assess their impact on the surrounding environment. On top of that, modelling and simulations were used to observe and assess the noise emission characteristics. The quantitative results contain an assessment of the given noise restrictions based on the psychoacoustic impact and actual measured values inserted into the urban simulation scenario of the Zilina case study located in northwest Slovakia. It was preceded by a study of noise levels in certain areas to evaluate the variation level after UAS integration into the corresponding airspace. Following a model simulation of the C2 category, it was concluded that there was a marginal rise in the level of noise exposure, which would not exceed the prescribed standards of the Environmental Noise Directive. Full article
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23 pages, 2539 KiB  
Article
Accelerating Use of Drones and Robotics in Post-Pandemic Project Supply Chain
by Musaab A. AlRushood, Fred Rahbar, Shokri Z. Selim and Fikri Dweiri
Drones 2023, 7(5), 313; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050313 - 9 May 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 5259
Abstract
The global COVID-19 pandemic forced the construction industry to a standstill. In the wake of the pandemic, this sector must be prepared to make bold, innovative moves to prepare for the future. Over the past few years, the use of drones and robotics [...] Read more.
The global COVID-19 pandemic forced the construction industry to a standstill. In the wake of the pandemic, this sector must be prepared to make bold, innovative moves to prepare for the future. Over the past few years, the use of drones and robotics has expanded with many commercial uses, including in the construction industry. Drone-driven automation has an enormous impact in improving productivity and reducing cost and schedule overruns. The use of drones, along with the application of Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics, can make a significant impact on the supply chain and improve inventory accuracy, leading to faster and more cost-effective building projects. This paper will propose and statistically substantiate an optimization model for supply chain management through the accelerated use of drones and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the post-pandemic era. The use of smart devices and IoT will allow warehouse managers to have real-time visibility of the location and inventory tracking, as well as enabling warehouse workers to access information without being physically present. Cutting-edge drone technology can quickly perform inspections to make inventory control more economical and efficient. While they are certainly not a perfect fit for every building surveillance task, drones have many advantages for probing buildings in search of leaks, performing aerial surveys, and dealing with security issues more cost-effectively than manual procedures, thereby leading to improved communication and collaboration between different stakeholders. This paper includes a real-life case study and dynamic mathematical model to demonstrate how this approach results in a project’s materials becoming visible, traceable, and easily tracked from end to end. Full article
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21 pages, 2868 KiB  
Article
IRelNet: An Improved Relation Network for Few-Shot Radar Emitter Identification
by Zilong Wu, Meng Du, Daping Bi and Jifei Pan
Drones 2023, 7(5), 312; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050312 - 8 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1402
Abstract
In future electronic warfare (EW), there will be many unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with electronic support measure (ESM) systems, which will often encounter the challenge of radar emitter identification (REI) with few labeled samples. To address this issue, we propose a novel [...] Read more.
In future electronic warfare (EW), there will be many unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with electronic support measure (ESM) systems, which will often encounter the challenge of radar emitter identification (REI) with few labeled samples. To address this issue, we propose a novel deep learning network, IRelNet, which could be easily embedded in the computer system of a UAV. This network was designed with channel attention, spatial attention and skip-connect features, and meta-learning technology was applied to solve the REI problem. IRelNet was trained using simulated radar emitter signals and can effectively extract the essential features of samples in a new task, allowing it to accurately predict the class of the emitter to be identified. Furthermore, this work provides a detailed description of how IRelNet embedded in a UAV was applied in the EW scene and verified its effectiveness via experiments. When the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) was 4 dB, IRelNet achieved an identification accuracy of greater than 90% on the samples in the test task. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue AI Based Signal Processing for Drones)
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26 pages, 2460 KiB  
Article
A Hybrid Human-in-the-Loop Deep Reinforcement Learning Method for UAV Motion Planning for Long Trajectories with Unpredictable Obstacles
by Sitong Zhang, Yibing Li, Fang Ye, Xiaoyu Geng, Zitao Zhou and Tuo Shi
Drones 2023, 7(5), 311; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050311 - 6 May 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2622
Abstract
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can be an important component in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem due to their ability to collect and transmit data from remote and hard-to-reach areas. Ensuring collision-free navigation for these UAVs is crucial in achieving this goal. However, [...] Read more.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can be an important component in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem due to their ability to collect and transmit data from remote and hard-to-reach areas. Ensuring collision-free navigation for these UAVs is crucial in achieving this goal. However, existing UAV collision-avoidance methods face two challenges: conventional path-planning methods are energy-intensive and computationally demanding, while deep reinforcement learning (DRL)-based motion-planning methods are prone to make UAVs trapped in complex environments—especially for long trajectories with unpredictable obstacles—due to UAVs’ limited sensing ability. To address these challenges, we propose a hybrid collision-avoidance method for the real-time navigation of UAVs in complex environments with unpredictable obstacles. We firstly develop a Human-in-the-Loop DRL (HL-DRL) training module for mapless obstacle avoidance and secondly establish a global-planning module that generates a few points as waypoint guidance. Moreover, a novel goal-updating algorithm is proposed to integrate the HL-DRL training module with the global-planning module by adaptively determining the to-be-reached waypoint. The proposed method is evaluated in different simulated environments. Results demonstrate that our approach can rapidly adapt to changes in environments with short replanning time and prevent the UAV from getting stuck in maze-like environments. Full article
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16 pages, 1558 KiB  
Article
On-Board Small-Scale Object Detection for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
by Zubair Saeed, Muhammad Haroon Yousaf, Rehan Ahmed, Sergio A. Velastin and Serestina Viriri
Drones 2023, 7(5), 310; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050310 - 6 May 2023
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3129
Abstract
Object detection is a critical task that becomes difficult when dealing with onboard detection using aerial images and computer vision technique. The main challenges with aerial images are small target sizes, low resolution, occlusion, attitude, and scale variations, which affect the performance of [...] Read more.
Object detection is a critical task that becomes difficult when dealing with onboard detection using aerial images and computer vision technique. The main challenges with aerial images are small target sizes, low resolution, occlusion, attitude, and scale variations, which affect the performance of many object detectors. The accuracy of the detection and the efficiency of the inference are always trade-offs. We modified the architecture of CenterNet and used different CNN-based backbones of ResNet18, ResNet34, ResNet50, ResNet101, ResNet152, Res2Net50, Res2Net101, DLA-34, and hourglass14. A comparison of the modified CenterNet with nine CNN-based backbones is conducted and validated using three challenging datasets, i.e., VisDrone, Stanford Drone dataset (SSD), and AU-AIR. We also implemented well-known off-the-shelf object detectors, i.e., YoloV1 to YoloV7, SSD-MobileNet-V2, and Faster RCNN. The proposed approach and state-of-the-art object detectors are optimized and then implemented on cross-edge platforms, i.e., NVIDIA Jetson Xavier, NVIDIA Jetson Nano, and Neuro Compute Stick 2 (NCS2). A detailed comparison of performance between edge platforms is provided. Our modified CenterNet combination with hourglass as a backbone achieved 91.62%, 75.61%, and 34.82% mAP using the validation sets of AU-AIR, SSD, and VisDrone datasets, respectively. An FPS of 40.02 was achieved using the ResNet18 backbone. We also compared our approach with the latest cutting-edge research and found promising results for both discrete GPU and edge platforms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in UAV Detection, Classification and Tracking-II)
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23 pages, 6198 KiB  
Article
Study on the Evolution Law of Overlying Strata Structure in Stope Based on “Space–Air–Ground” Integrated Monitoring Network and Discrete Element
by Yuanhao Zhu, Yueguan Yan, Yanjun Zhang, Wanqiu Zhang, Jiayuan Kong and Anjin Dai
Drones 2023, 7(5), 309; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050309 - 5 May 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1362
Abstract
The geological environmental damage caused by coal mining has become a hot issue in current research. Especially in the western mining area, the size of the mining working face is large, the mining intensity is high, while the surface movement and deformation are [...] Read more.
The geological environmental damage caused by coal mining has become a hot issue in current research. Especially in the western mining area, the size of the mining working face is large, the mining intensity is high, while the surface movement and deformation are more intense and wider. Therefore, it is necessary to effectively monitor the surface using appropriate means and carrying out research on the overlying strata structure of the stope. In this paper, by using advantages of various subsidence monitoring technologies and the technical framework of the Internet of Things (IoT), a “space–air–ground” integrated collaborative monitoring network is constructed. The evolution law of overlying strata structure is studied based on discrete element simulations and theoretical analysis. Furthermore, a discrete element mechanical parameter inversion method is proposed. The main results, using numerical simulations, are as follows: The mean square error of monitoring surface subsidence is 33.2 mm, the mean square error of mechanical parameter inversion is 13.4 mm, and relative error is as low as 3.8%. The surface subsidence law of adjacent mining under different working face widths and interval coal pillar widths is revealed. The Boltzmann function model of surface subsidence ratio changing with width–depth ratio and the calculation formula of width reduction coefficient of adjacent mining working face are inverted. The critical failure width of the interval coal pillar is determined as 20.5 m. Based on the theory of “arch–beam” structure and numerical simulation results, the overlying strata structure model of adjacent mining in the mining area is constructed. The research results can provide technical support or theoretical reference for mining damage monitoring, subsidence control, and prediction in western mines. Full article
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12 pages, 5079 KiB  
Technical Note
HERMES: A Data and Specimens Transporter from the Stratosphere to the Ground—The First Experimental Flight
by Giovanni Romeo, Pasquale Adobbato, Simone Bacci, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Alessandro Iarocci, Amedeo Lepore, Massimo Mari, Silvia Masi, Francesco Pongetti, Giuseppe Spinelli and Massimiliano Vallocchia
Drones 2023, 7(5), 308; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050308 - 5 May 2023
Viewed by 1468
Abstract
Large stratospheric balloons are the easiest access to near space. Large long duration balloons (LDBs) can float in the stratosphere for weeks collecting measurements (e.g., astrophysical or geophysical data) or samples (e.g., contaminants, volcanic ash, micrometeorites). The recovery of data media and samples [...] Read more.
Large stratospheric balloons are the easiest access to near space. Large long duration balloons (LDBs) can float in the stratosphere for weeks collecting measurements (e.g., astrophysical or geophysical data) or samples (e.g., contaminants, volcanic ash, micrometeorites). The recovery of data media and samples is a common problem in this type of experiment because direct radio communication becomes useless when the balloon crosses the horizon, and satellite links are too slow and expensive. For this reason, physical recovery of the payload is mandatory to obtain experimental results, which is a difficult task, especially in polar regions. The goal of HERMES (HEmera Returning MESsenger) is to allow researchers to obtain experimental data prior to payload recovery. HERMES is a system equipped with an autonomous glider capable of physically transporting data and samples from the stratosphere to a recovery point on the ground. The glider is installed on the balloon payload via a remotely controlled release system and is connected to the main computer to store a copy of the scientific data and to receive the geographic coordinates of the recovery point. This allows scientists to obtain experimental results before recovering the payload. The article describes HERMES and the first experimental flight of the entire system, which was conducted at Esrange Space Center (Kiruna, Sweden) in July 2022. Full article
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18 pages, 82069 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Human Behaviour Detection and Interaction with Information Projection for Drone-Based Night-Time Security
by Ryosuke Kakiuchi, Dinh Tuan Tran and Joo-Ho Lee
Drones 2023, 7(5), 307; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050307 - 5 May 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1812
Abstract
Night security is known for its long hours and heavy tasks. In Japan, a labor shortage of security guards has become an issue in recent years. To solve these problems, an increasing number of robotic security methods are being used. However, several problems [...] Read more.
Night security is known for its long hours and heavy tasks. In Japan, a labor shortage of security guards has become an issue in recent years. To solve these problems, an increasing number of robotic security methods are being used. However, several problems exist with existing security robots. For example, wheeled robots traveling on the ground have difficulty in dealing with obstacles such as steps, while most drones are only for monitoring and do not have a function to help people. In this study, an aerial ubiquitous display (AUD) night security drone has been developed to solve the problems of existing security robots. The AUD is equipped with an infrared camera and a projector to detect human behavior at night and present information to people in need. In this paper, an experiment was conducted with the AUD to evaluate whether it can provide adequate nighttime security. In the experiment, real-time monitoring and information projection from the air were achieved. In addition, new security methods using the AUD were shown to be effective. Replacing security guards with the AUD to provide security at night will improve labor shortages in the future, and better security methods will be developed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances of Drone Development in Japan)
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23 pages, 4907 KiB  
Article
Robust Cooperative Control of UAV Swarms for Dual-Camp Divergent Tracking of a Heterogeneous Target
by Bing Jiang, Kaiyu Qin, Tong Li, Boxian Lin and Mengji Shi
Drones 2023, 7(5), 306; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones7050306 - 5 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1411
Abstract
Agents are used to exhibit swarm intelligence in the sense of convergence, while divergence is equivalently common in nature and useful in complex applications for multi-UAV systems. This paper proposes a robust target-tracking control algorithm, where UAV swarms are partitioned by a signed [...] Read more.
Agents are used to exhibit swarm intelligence in the sense of convergence, while divergence is equivalently common in nature and useful in complex applications for multi-UAV systems. This paper proposes a robust target-tracking control algorithm, where UAV swarms are partitioned by a signed graph to perform opposite movements along or against the trajectory of the target. Uncertainties take place in both the fractional-order model of the target and the double-integrator dynamics of the UAVs. To tackle the challenge induced by the bipartite behavior and unknown components in the multi-UAV systems, the article comes up with a backstepping cascade controller and a new method for uncertainty estimation-compensation via a combined approach based on a neural network (NN) and an Uncertainty and Disturbance Estimator (UDE). Steered by the controller, UAVs in a structurally balanced network will display symmetry of their paths, pursuing or away from the target with respect to the origin. Theoretical derivation and numerical simulations have evidenced that the tracking errors converge to zero. Compared with the traditional NN method to solve such problems, this method is proposed for the first time, which can effectively improve the precision of cooperative target tracking and reduce the chattering phenomena of the controller. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Large Scale Cooperative UAS: Control Theory and Applications)
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