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Special Issue "Deployment and Navigation of Aerial Drones and Unmanned Marine Vehicles for Monitoring, Communication and Delivery"

A special issue of Sensors (ISSN 1424-8220). This special issue belongs to the section "Sensor Networks".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Andrey V. Savkin
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
Interests: robot navigation; deployment of drones; control of power systems; robust control and filtering; hybrid dynamical systems; control engineering; biomedical engineering
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

We are inviting submissions to a Special Issue of Sensors on the subject area of "Deployment and Navigation of Aerial Drones and Unmanned Marine Vehicles for Communication, Monitoring and Delivery". The use of aerial drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and unmanned marine vehicles (UMVs) is rapidly expanding to numerous applications, such as communication, environmental monitoring, rescue operations, policing, surveillance, product deliveries, aerial and underwater photography, underwater archeology, marine geology, agriculture, and fishing. For these applications, efficient deployment and navigation of aerial drones are critical issues. Advanced methods of navigation and deployment play an important role in achieving a reliable, robust, secure, and cost-effective functioning of networks of UAVs or UMVs. Researchers and engineers worldwide are working together to develop novel and efficient tools of deployment and navigation of aerial drones and unmanned marine vehicles for communication, monitoring, and delivery. This Special Issue is focused on new developments in the field of placement and navigation of UAVs and UMVs for various applications. 

Potential topics include but are not limited to the following: 

Reactive deployment of aerial drones;

Proactive deployment of aerial drones;

UAV navigation;

Surveillance and following of moving objects by UAVs;

Navigation of unmanned underwater vehicles;

Navigation of unmanned surface vehicles;

Networks of UAVs and UMVs;

UAV and UMV path planning;

Collision avoidance for UAVs and UMVs;

Deployment and control of flying sensor networks;

Coverage control in UAV surveillance;

Environmental monitoring by UAVs and UMVs;

Drone delivery;

Deployment of charging stations for delivery drones;

Deployment of UAVs for communication;

Navigation for securing UAV communication;

UAV eavesdropping. 

Prof. Dr. Andrey V. Savkin
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sensors is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Networks of drones
  • Deployment of aerial drones
  • Aerial surveillance and monitoring
  • Navigation of UAVs
  • Navigation of unmanned surface vehicles
  • Navigation of unmanned underwater vehicles
  • Networks of marine vehicles
  • UAV path planning
  • Internet of Drones
  • Internet of flying robots
  • UAV collision avoidance
  • UAV communication
  • Drone delivery
  • Flying sensor networks
  • Mobile underwater sensor networks

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Article
Virtual Electric Dipole Field Applied to Autonomous Formation Flight Control of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Sensors 2021, 21(13), 4540; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21134540 - 01 Jul 2021
Viewed by 606
Abstract
The following paper presents a method for the use of a virtual electric dipole potential field to control a leader-follower formation of autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The proposed control algorithm uses a virtual electric dipole potential field to determine the desired heading [...] Read more.
The following paper presents a method for the use of a virtual electric dipole potential field to control a leader-follower formation of autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The proposed control algorithm uses a virtual electric dipole potential field to determine the desired heading for a UAV follower. This method’s greatest advantage is the ability to rapidly change the potential field function depending on the position of the independent leader. Another advantage is that it ensures formation flight safety regardless of the positions of the initial leader or follower. Moreover, it is also possible to generate additional potential fields which guarantee obstacle and vehicle collision avoidance. The considered control system can easily be adapted to vehicles with different dynamics without the need to retune heading control channel gains and parameters. The paper closely describes and presents in detail the synthesis of the control algorithm based on vector fields obtained using scalar virtual electric dipole potential fields. The proposed control system was tested and its operation was verified through simulations. Generated potential fields as well as leader-follower flight parameters have been presented and thoroughly discussed within the paper. The obtained research results validate the effectiveness of this formation flight control method as well as prove that the described algorithm improves flight formation organization and helps ensure collision-free conditions. Full article
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Article
Prototype Design and Experimental Evaluation of Autonomous Collaborative Communication System for Emerging Maritime Use Cases
Sensors 2021, 21(11), 3871; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21113871 - 03 Jun 2021
Viewed by 757
Abstract
Automated systems have been seamlessly integrated into several industries as part of their industrial automation processes. Employing automated systems, such as autonomous vehicles, allows industries to increase productivity, benefit from a wide range of technologies and capabilities, and improve workplace safety. So far, [...] Read more.
Automated systems have been seamlessly integrated into several industries as part of their industrial automation processes. Employing automated systems, such as autonomous vehicles, allows industries to increase productivity, benefit from a wide range of technologies and capabilities, and improve workplace safety. So far, most of the existing systems consider utilizing one type of autonomous vehicle. In this work, we propose a collaboration of different types of unmanned vehicles in maritime offshore scenarios. Providing high capacity, extended coverage, and better quality of services, autonomous collaborative systems can enable emerging maritime use cases, such as remote monitoring and navigation assistance. Motivated by these potential benefits, we propose the deployment of an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in an autonomous collaborative communication system. Specifically, we design high-speed, directional communication links between a terrestrial control station and the two unmanned vehicles. Using measurement and simulation results, we evaluate the performance of the designed links in different communication scenarios and we show the benefits of employing multiple autonomous vehicles in the proposed communication system. Full article
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Communication
Application of a Drone Magnetometer System to Military Mine Detection in the Demilitarized Zone
Sensors 2021, 21(9), 3175; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21093175 - 03 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 752
Abstract
We propose a magnetometer system fitted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, or drone) and a data-processing method for detecting metal antipersonnel landmines (M16) in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Korea, which is an undeveloped natural environment. The performance of the laser altimeter [...] Read more.
We propose a magnetometer system fitted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, or drone) and a data-processing method for detecting metal antipersonnel landmines (M16) in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Korea, which is an undeveloped natural environment. The performance of the laser altimeter was improved so that the drone could fly at a low and stable altitude, even in a natural environment with dust and bushes, and a magnetometer was installed on a pendulum to minimize the effects of magnetic noise and vibration from the drone. At a flight altitude of 1 m, the criterion for M16 is 5 nT. Simple low-pass filtering eliminates magnetic swing noise due to pendulum motion, and the moving average method eliminates changes related to the heading of the magnetometer. Magnetic exploration was conducted in an actual mine-removal area near the DMZ in Korea, with nine magnetic anomalies of more than 5 nT detected and a variety of metallic substances found within a 1-m radius of each detection site. The proposed UAV-based landmine detection system is expected to reduce risk to detection personnel and shorten the landmine-detection period by providing accurate scientific information about the detection area prior to military landmine-detection efforts. Full article
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Communication
Velocity-Free Attitude Control of Quadrotors: A Nonlinear Negative Imaginary Approach
Sensors 2021, 21(7), 2387; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21072387 - 30 Mar 2021
Viewed by 464
Abstract
In this paper, we propose a new approach to the attitude control of quadrotors, by which angular velocity measurements or a model-based observer reconstructing the angular velocity are not needed. The proposed approach is based on recent stability results obtained for nonlinear negative [...] Read more.
In this paper, we propose a new approach to the attitude control of quadrotors, by which angular velocity measurements or a model-based observer reconstructing the angular velocity are not needed. The proposed approach is based on recent stability results obtained for nonlinear negative imaginary systems. In specific, through an inner-outer loop method, we establish the nonlinear negative imaginary property of the quadrotor rotational subsystem. Then, a strictly negative imaginary controller is synthesized using the nonlinear negative imaginary results. This guarantees the robust asymptotic stability of the attitude of the quadrotor in the face of modeling uncertainties and external disturbances. First simulation results underline the effectiveness of the proposed attitude control approach are presented. Full article
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Article
Matheuristics for Multi-UAV Routing and Recharge Station Location for Complete Area Coverage
Sensors 2021, 21(5), 1705; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21051705 - 02 Mar 2021
Viewed by 751
Abstract
This paper presents matheuristics for routing a heterogeneous group of capacitated unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for complete coverage of ground areas, considering simultaneous minimization of the coverage time and locating the minimal number of refueling stations. Whereas coverage path planning (CPP) is widely [...] Read more.
This paper presents matheuristics for routing a heterogeneous group of capacitated unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for complete coverage of ground areas, considering simultaneous minimization of the coverage time and locating the minimal number of refueling stations. Whereas coverage path planning (CPP) is widely studied in the literature, previous works did not combine heterogeneous vehicle performance and complete area coverage constraints to optimize UAV tours by considering both objectives. As this problem cannot be easily solved, we designed high-level path planning that combines the multiobjective variable neighborhood search (MOVNS) metaheuristic and the exact mathematical formulation to explore the set of nondominated solutions. Since the exact method can interact in different ways with MOVNS, we evaluated four different strategies using four metrics: execution time, coverage, cardinality, and hypervolume. The experimental results show that applying the exact method as an intraroute operator into the variable neighborhood descent (VND) can return solutions as good as those obtained by the closest to optimal strategy but with higher efficiency. Full article
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Article
Embedded Computation Architectures for Autonomy in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
Sensors 2021, 21(4), 1115; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21041115 - 05 Feb 2021
Viewed by 659
Abstract
This paper addresses the challenge of embedded computing resources required by future autonomous Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Based on an analysis of the required onboard functions that will lead to higher levels of autonomy, we look at most common UAS tasks to first [...] Read more.
This paper addresses the challenge of embedded computing resources required by future autonomous Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Based on an analysis of the required onboard functions that will lead to higher levels of autonomy, we look at most common UAS tasks to first propose a classification of UAS tasks considering categories such as flight, navigation, safety, mission and executing entities such as human, offline machine, embedded system. We then analyse how a given combination of tasks can lead to higher levels of autonomy by defining an autonomy level. We link UAS applications, the tasks required by those applications, the autonomy level and the implications on computing resources to achieve that autonomy level. We provide insights on how to define a given autonomy level for a given application based on a number of tasks. Our study relies on the state-of-the-art hardware and software implementations of the most common tasks currently used by UAS, also expected tasks according to the nature of their future missions. We conclude that current computing architectures are unlikely to meet the autonomy requirements of future UAS. Our proposed approach is based on dynamically reconfigurable hardware that offers benefits in computational performance and energy usage. We believe that UAS designers must now consider the embedded system as a masterpiece of the system. Full article
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Article
Indoor Path-Planning Algorithm for UAV-Based Contact Inspection
Sensors 2021, 21(2), 642; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21020642 - 18 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 945
Abstract
Nowadays, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are extensively used for multiple purposes, such as infrastructure inspections or surveillance. This paper presents a real-time path planning algorithm in indoor environments designed to perform contact inspection tasks using UAVs. The only input used by this algorithm [...] Read more.
Nowadays, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are extensively used for multiple purposes, such as infrastructure inspections or surveillance. This paper presents a real-time path planning algorithm in indoor environments designed to perform contact inspection tasks using UAVs. The only input used by this algorithm is the point cloud of the building where the UAV is going to navigate. The algorithm is divided into two main parts. The first one is the pre-processing algorithm that processes the point cloud, segmenting it into rooms and discretizing each room. The second part is the path planning algorithm that has to be executed in real time. In this way, all the computational load is in the first step, which is pre-processed, making the path calculation algorithm faster. The method has been tested in different buildings, measuring the execution time for different paths calculations. As can be seen in the results section, the developed algorithm is able to calculate a new path in 8–9 milliseconds. The developed algorithm fulfils the execution time restrictions, and it has proven to be reliable for route calculation. Full article
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Article
Autonomous Navigation of a Team of Unmanned Surface Vehicles for Intercepting Intruders on a Region Boundary
Sensors 2021, 21(1), 297; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21010297 - 04 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 946
Abstract
We study problems of intercepting single and multiple invasive intruders on a boundary of a planar region by employing a team of autonomous unmanned surface vehicles. First, the problem of intercepting a single intruder has been studied and then the proposed strategy has [...] Read more.
We study problems of intercepting single and multiple invasive intruders on a boundary of a planar region by employing a team of autonomous unmanned surface vehicles. First, the problem of intercepting a single intruder has been studied and then the proposed strategy has been applied to intercepting multiple intruders on the region boundary. Based on the proposed decentralised motion control algorithm and decision making strategy, each autonomous vehicle intercepts any intruder, which tends to leave the region by detecting the most vulnerable point of the boundary. An efficient and simple mathematical rules based control algorithm for navigating the autonomous vehicles on the boundary of the see region is developed. The proposed algorithm is computationally simple and easily implementable in real life intruder interception applications. In this paper, we obtain necessary and sufficient conditions for the existence of a real-time solution to the considered problem of intruder interception. The effectiveness of the proposed method is confirmed by computer simulations with both single and multiple intruders. Full article
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Article
A Robust Reactive Static Obstacle Avoidance System for Surface Marine Vehicles
Sensors 2020, 20(21), 6262; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20216262 - 03 Nov 2020
Viewed by 700
Abstract
This paper is centered on the guidance systems used to increase the autonomy of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). The new Robust Reactive Static Obstacle Avoidance System (RRSOAS) has been specifically designed for USVs. This algorithm is easily applicable, since previous knowledge of the [...] Read more.
This paper is centered on the guidance systems used to increase the autonomy of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). The new Robust Reactive Static Obstacle Avoidance System (RRSOAS) has been specifically designed for USVs. This algorithm is easily applicable, since previous knowledge of the USV mathematical model and its controllers is not needed. Instead, a new estimated closed-loop model (ECLM) is proposed and used to estimate possible future trajectories. Furthermore, the prediction errors (due to the uncertainty present in the ECLM) are taken into account by modeling the USV’s shape as a time-varying ellipse. Additionally, in order to decrease the computation time, we propose to use a variable prediction horizon and an exponential resolution to discretize the decision space. As environmental model an occupancy probability grid is used, which is updated with the measurements generated by a LIDAR sensor model. Finally, the new RRSOAS is compared with other SOA (static obstacle avoidance) methods. In addition, a robustness study was carried out over a set of random scenarios. The results obtained through numerical simulations indicate that RRSOAS is robust to unknown and congested scenarios in the presence of disturbances, while offering competitive performance with respect to other SOA methods. Full article
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Article
Q-LBR: Q-Learning Based Load Balancing Routing for UAV-Assisted VANET
Sensors 2020, 20(19), 5685; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20195685 - 05 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 979
Abstract
Although various unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-assisted routing protocols have been proposed for vehicular ad hoc networks, few studies have investigated load balancing algorithms to accommodate future traffic growth and deal with complex dynamic network environments simultaneously. In particular, owing to the extended coverage [...] Read more.
Although various unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-assisted routing protocols have been proposed for vehicular ad hoc networks, few studies have investigated load balancing algorithms to accommodate future traffic growth and deal with complex dynamic network environments simultaneously. In particular, owing to the extended coverage and clear line-of-sight relay link on a UAV relay node (URN), the possibility of a bottleneck link is high. To prevent problems caused by traffic congestion, we propose Q-learning based load balancing routing (Q-LBR) through a combination of three key techniques, namely, a low-overhead technique for estimating the network load through the queue status obtained from each ground vehicular node by the URN, a load balancing scheme based on Q-learning and a reward control function for rapid convergence of Q-learning. Through diverse simulations, we demonstrate that Q-LBR improves the packet delivery ratio, network utilization and latency by more than 8, 28 and 30%, respectively, compared to the existing protocol. Full article
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