Special Issue "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Platforms, Applications, Security and Services"

A special issue of Electronics (ISSN 2079-9292). This special issue belongs to the section "Networks".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2020).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Carlos Tavares Calafate
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Computer Engineering, Technical University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
Interests: ad-hoc and vehicular networks; UAVs, smart cities and IoT; QoS; network protocols; video streaming; network security
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Mauro Tropea
Website
Guest Editor
DIMES Department, University of Calabria, 87036 Rende (CS), Italy
Interests: satellite networks; vehicular ad-hoc networks (VANET; flying ad-hoc networks (FANET); UAVs; channel modeling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has attracted prominent attention from researchers, engineers, and investors in multidisciplinary fields such as agriculture domain, coverage issues, emergency situations, disaster events, farmland and environment monitoring, 3D-mapping, etc. The use of this technology is playing an important role in supporting human activities. Man is concentrating more and more on intellectual work, trying to make practical activities more and more automated in order to increase their efficiency. In this regard, the use of drones is increasingly becoming a key aspect of this automation process. A drone offers many advantages including agility, efficiency, and reduced risk, especially in dangerous missions.

The research on UAVs is becoming increasingly important and, for this reason, we want to propose a Special Issue where we invite submissions of technical papers that may address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • UAV platforms: system aspects, sensors, and actuators equipment, architecture/integration, experimental results with prototypes, field tests, test-beds, deployment results, communication system, UAV coordination, algorithms and protocols studies, etc.
  • UAV power/energy efficiency: renewable energy on-board, energy harvesting, wireless power transmission, batteries, smart energy management, etc.
  • Connectivity issues: software-defined radio/networks, virtualized networks, heterogeneous networks, routing protocols, coverage aspects, footprint, channel modeling, etc.
  • Real-time services and applications: localization, unmanned aerial vehicles for autonomous vehicles, QoS services, connection guarantees, real-time communications, video streaming, voice over IP, call conferences, network gaming, slow delay applications, etc.
  • Security and privacy for UAVs: identification, authentication, cryptography, network security, aerial surveillance, UAVs for civil security, UAVs cyber security, etc.

Prof. Dr. Carlos Tavares Calafate
Dr. Mauro Tropea
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • UAVs platforms
  • UAV power/energy efficiency
  • Connectivity Issues
  • Real-time services and applications
  • Security and privacy for UAVs

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles—Platforms, Applications, Security and Services
Electronics 2020, 9(6), 975; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9060975 - 11 Jun 2020
Abstract
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has attracted prominent attention from researchers, engineers, and investors in multidisciplinary fields such as agriculture, signal coverage, emergency situations, disaster events, farmland and environment monitoring, 3D-mapping, and so forth [...] Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle
LoRaWAN Networking in Mobile Scenarios Using a WiFi Mesh of UAV Gateways
Electronics 2020, 9(4), 630; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9040630 - 10 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Immediately after a disaster, such as a flood, wildfire or earthquake, networks might be congested or disrupted and not suitable for supporting the traffic generated by rescuers. In these situations, the use of a traditional fixed-gateway approach would not be effective due to [...] Read more.
Immediately after a disaster, such as a flood, wildfire or earthquake, networks might be congested or disrupted and not suitable for supporting the traffic generated by rescuers. In these situations, the use of a traditional fixed-gateway approach would not be effective due to the mobility of the rescuers. In the present work, a double-layer network system named LoRaUAV has been designed and evaluated with the purpose of finding a solution to the aforementioned issues. LoRaUAV is based on a WiFi ad hoc network of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) gateways acting as relays for the traffic generated between mobile LoRaWAN nodes and a remote Base Station (BS). The core of the system is a completely distributed mobility algorithm based on virtual spring forces that periodically updates the UAV topology to adapt to the movement of ground nodes. LoRaUAV has been successfully implemented in ns-3 and its performance has been comparatively evaluated in wild area firefighting scenarios, using Packet Reception Ratio (PRR) and end-to-end delay as the main performance metrics. It is observed that the Connection Recovery and Maintenance (CRM) and Movement Prediction (MP) mechanisms implemented in LoRaUAV effectively help improve the PRR, with the only disadvantage of a higher delay affecting a small percentage of packets caused by buffer delays and disconnections. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Onboard Visual Horizon Detection for Unmanned Aerial Systems with Programmable Logic
Electronics 2020, 9(4), 614; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9040614 - 04 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
We introduce and analyze a fast horizon detection algorithm with native radial distortion handling and its implementation on a low power field programmable gate array (FPGA) development board in this paper. The algorithm is suited for visual applications in an airborne environment, that [...] Read more.
We introduce and analyze a fast horizon detection algorithm with native radial distortion handling and its implementation on a low power field programmable gate array (FPGA) development board in this paper. The algorithm is suited for visual applications in an airborne environment, that is on board a small unmanned aircraft. The algorithm was designed to have low complexity because of the power consumption requirements. To keep the computational cost low, an initial guess for the horizon is used, which is provided by the attitude heading reference system of the aircraft. The camera model takes radial distortions into account, which is necessary for a wide-angle lens used in most applications. This paper presents formulae for distorted horizon lines and a gradient sampling-based resolution-independent single shot algorithm for finding a horizon with radial distortion without undistortion of the complete image. The implemented algorithm is part of our visual sense-and-avoid system, where it is used for the sky-ground separation, and the performance of the algorithm is tested on real flight data. The FPGA implementation of the horizon detection method makes it possible to add this efficient module to any FPGA-based vision system. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A New FANET Simulator for Managing Drone Networks and Providing Dynamic Connectivity
Electronics 2020, 9(4), 543; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9040543 - 25 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
In the last decade, the attention on unmanned aerial vehicles has rapidly grown, due to their ability to help in many human activities. Among their widespread benefits, one of the most important uses regards the possibility of distributing wireless connectivity to many users [...] Read more.
In the last decade, the attention on unmanned aerial vehicles has rapidly grown, due to their ability to help in many human activities. Among their widespread benefits, one of the most important uses regards the possibility of distributing wireless connectivity to many users in a specific coverage area. In this study, we focus our attention on these new kinds of networks, called flying ad-hoc networks. As stated in the literature, they are suitable for all emergency situations where the traditional networking paradigm may have many issues or difficulties to be implemented. The use of a software simulator can give important help to the scientific community in the choice of the right UAV/drone parameters in many different situations. In particular, in this work, we focus our main attention on the new ways of area covering and human mobility behaviors with the introduction of a UAV/drone behavior model to take into account also drones energetic issues. A deep campaign of simulations was carried out to evaluate the goodness of the proposed simulator illustrating how it works. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Traceable and Privacy-Preserving Authentication for UAV Communication Control System
Electronics 2020, 9(1), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9010062 - 01 Jan 2020
Cited by 8
Abstract
In recent years, the concept of the Internet of Things has been introduced. Information, communication, and network technology can be integrated, so that the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from consumer leisure and entertainment toys can be utilized in high value commercial, agricultural, and [...] Read more.
In recent years, the concept of the Internet of Things has been introduced. Information, communication, and network technology can be integrated, so that the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from consumer leisure and entertainment toys can be utilized in high value commercial, agricultural, and defense field applications, and become a killer product. In this paper, a traceable and privacy-preserving authentication is proposed to integrate the elliptic curve cryptography (ECC), digital signature, hash function, and other cryptography mechanisms for UAV application. For sensitive areas, players must obtain flight approval from the ground control station before they can control the UAV in these areas. The traditional cryptography services such as integrity, confidentiality, anonymity, availability, privacy, non-repudiation, defense against DoS (Denial-of-Service) attack, and spoofing attack can be ensured. The feasibility of mutual authentication was proved by BAN logic. In addition, the computation cost and the communication cost of the proposed scheme were analyzed. The proposed scheme provides a novel application field. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Efficient and Provably Secure Certificateless Blind Signature Scheme for Flying Ad-Hoc Network Based on Multi-Access Edge Computing
Electronics 2020, 9(1), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9010030 - 26 Dec 2019
Cited by 8
Abstract
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), when interconnected in a multi-hop ad-hoc fashion, or as a flying ad-hoc network (FANET), can efficiently accomplish mission-critical tasks. However, UAVs usually suffer from the issues of shorter lifespan and limited computational resources. Therefore, the existing security approaches, being [...] Read more.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), when interconnected in a multi-hop ad-hoc fashion, or as a flying ad-hoc network (FANET), can efficiently accomplish mission-critical tasks. However, UAVs usually suffer from the issues of shorter lifespan and limited computational resources. Therefore, the existing security approaches, being fragile, are not capable of countering the attacks, whether known or unknown. Such a security lapse can result in a debilitated FANET system. In order to cope up with such attacks, various efficient signature schemes have been proposed. Unfortunately, none of the solutions work effectively because of incurred computational and communication costs. We aimed to resolve such issues by proposing a blind signature scheme in a certificateless setting. The scheme does not require public-key certificates, nor does it suffer from the key escrow problem. Moreover, the data that are aggregated from the platform that monitors the UAVs might be too huge to be processed by the same UAVs engaged in the monitoring task. Due to being latency-sensitive, it demands high computational capability. Luckily, the envisioned fifth generation (5G) mobile communication introduces multi-access edge computing (MEC) in its architecture. MEC, when incorporated in a UAV environment, in our proposed model, divides the workload between UAVs and the on-board microcomputer. Thus, our proposed model extends FANET to the 5G mobile network and enables a secure communication between UAVs and the base station (BS). Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Accurate Landing of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Using Ground Pattern Recognition
Electronics 2019, 8(12), 1532; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8121532 - 12 Dec 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Over the last few years, several researchers have been developing protocols and applications in order to autonomously land unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). However, most of the proposed protocols rely on expensive equipment or do not satisfy the high precision needs of some UAV [...] Read more.
Over the last few years, several researchers have been developing protocols and applications in order to autonomously land unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). However, most of the proposed protocols rely on expensive equipment or do not satisfy the high precision needs of some UAV applications such as package retrieval and delivery or the compact landing of UAV swarms. Therefore, in this work, a solution for high precision landing based on the use of ArUco markers is presented. In the proposed solution, a UAV equipped with a low-cost camera is able to detect ArUco markers sized 56 × 56 cm from an altitude of up to 30 m. Once the marker is detected, the UAV changes its flight behavior in order to land on the exact position where the marker is located. The proposal was evaluated and validated using both the ArduSim simulation platform and real UAV flights. The results show an average offset of only 11 cm from the target position, which vastly improves the landing accuracy compared to the traditional GPS-based landing, which typically deviates from the intended target by 1 to 3 m. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Design and Analysis of Refined Inspection of Field Conditions of Oilfield Pumping Wells Based on Rotorcraft UAV Technology
Electronics 2019, 8(12), 1504; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8121504 - 09 Dec 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The traditional oil well monitoring method relies on manual acquisition and various high-precision sensors. Using the indicator diagram to judge the working condition of the well is not only difficult to establish but also consumes huge manpower and financial resources. This paper proposes [...] Read more.
The traditional oil well monitoring method relies on manual acquisition and various high-precision sensors. Using the indicator diagram to judge the working condition of the well is not only difficult to establish but also consumes huge manpower and financial resources. This paper proposes the use of computer vision in the detection of working conditions in oil extraction. Combined with the advantages of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), UAV aerial photography images are used to realize real-time detection of on-site working conditions by real-time tracking of the working status of the head working and other related parts of the pumping unit. Considering the real-time performance of working condition detection, this paper proposes a framework that combines You only look once version 3 (YOLOv3) and a sort algorithm to complete multi-target tracking in the form of tracking by detection. The quality of the target detection in the framework is the key factor affecting the tracking effect. The experimental results show that a good detector makes the tracking speed achieve the real-time effect and provides help for the real-time detection of the working condition, which has a strong practical application. Full article
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