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Special Issue "Multi-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Multi-UAV) for Autonomous Transportation"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 February 2023 | Viewed by 9088

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Baochang Zhang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Automation Science and Electrical Engineering, Beihang University, Beijing, China
Interests: robotic vision; path planning of UAVs; pattern recognition; machine learning; face recognition; wavelets
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Ying Huang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Virtual Reality and Intelligent System, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 311121, China
Interests: Computer vision; machine learning; artificial intelligence; control theory

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are of particular interest today due to their varied, established and emerging applications, including in systems with multiple UAVs. However, as the application of several UAVs is a relatively new topic, there are several challenges that still need to be tackled, such as modeling, algorithms, coordination, planning, regulations, and simulations.

The objective of this Special Issue is to publish high-quality papers that address the challenging domain of multiple UAVs for autonomous transportation. We solicit original, full-length, unpublished contributions in this domain. Potential topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • UAV configuration and grouping;
  • Spatial–temporal association;
  • Task separation;
  • Mission control;
  • Flight control;
  • Human–UAV interaction;
  • Autonomous planning;
  • Computer vision;
  • Navigation;
  • Edge AI.

Prof. Dr. Baochang Zhang
Dr. Ying Huang
Guest Editors

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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 2400 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.

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Multi-UAV Path Planning Algorithm Based on BINN-HHO
Sensors 2022, 22(24), 9786; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22249786 - 13 Dec 2022
Viewed by 578
Abstract
Multi-UAV (multiple unmanned aerial vehicles) flying in three-dimensional (3D) mountain environments suffer from low stability, long-planned path, and low dynamic obstacle avoidance efficiency. Spurred by these constraints, this paper proposes a multi-UAV path planning algorithm that consists of a bioinspired neural network and [...] Read more.
Multi-UAV (multiple unmanned aerial vehicles) flying in three-dimensional (3D) mountain environments suffer from low stability, long-planned path, and low dynamic obstacle avoidance efficiency. Spurred by these constraints, this paper proposes a multi-UAV path planning algorithm that consists of a bioinspired neural network and improved Harris hawks optimization with a periodic energy decline regulation mechanism (BINN-HHO) to solve the multi-UAV path planning problem in a 3D space. Specifically, in the procession of global path planning, an energy cycle decline mechanism is introduced into HHO and embed it into the energy function, which balances the algorithm’s multi-round dynamic iteration between global exploration and local search. Additionally, when the onboard sensors detect a dynamic obstacle during the flight, the improved BINN algorithm conducts a local path replanning for dynamic obstacle avoidance. Once the dynamic obstacles in the sensor detection area disappear, the local path planning is completed, and the UAV returns to the trajectory determined by the global planning. The simulation results show that the proposed Harris hawks algorithm has apparent superiorities in path planning and dynamic obstacle avoidance efficiency compared with the basic Harris hawks optimization, particle swarm optimization (PSO), and the sparrow search algorithm (SSA). Full article
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Article
Research on Aerial Autonomous Docking and Landing Technology of Dual Multi-Rotor UAV
Sensors 2022, 22(23), 9066; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22239066 - 22 Nov 2022
Viewed by 488
Abstract
This paper studies the cooperative control of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with sensors and autonomous flight capabilities. In this paper, an architecture is proposed that takes a small quadrotor as a mission UAV and a large six-rotor as a platform UAV to [...] Read more.
This paper studies the cooperative control of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with sensors and autonomous flight capabilities. In this paper, an architecture is proposed that takes a small quadrotor as a mission UAV and a large six-rotor as a platform UAV to provide an aerial take-off and landing platform and transport carrier for the mission UAV. The design of a tracking controller for an autonomous docking and landing trajectory system is the focus of this research. To examine the system’s overall design, a dual-machine trajectory-tracking control simulation platform is created via MATLAB/Simulink. Then, an autonomous docking and landing trajectory-tracking controller based on radial basis function proportional–integral–derivative control is designed, which fulfills the trajectory-tracking control requirements of the autonomous docking and landing process by efficiently suppressing the external airflow disturbance according to the simulation results. A YOLOv3-based vision pilot system is designed to calibrate the rate of the aerial docking and landing position to eight frames per second. The feasibility of the multi-rotor aerial autonomous docking and landing technology is verified using prototype flight tests during the day and at night. It lays a technical foundation for UAV transportation, autonomous take-off, landing in the air, and collaborative networking. In addition, compared with the existing technologies, our research completes the closed loop of the technical process through modeling, algorithm design and testing, virtual simulation verification, prototype manufacturing, and flight test, which have better realizability. Full article
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Article
An Efficient LiDAR Point Cloud Map Coding Scheme Based on Segmentation and Frame-Inserting Network
Sensors 2022, 22(14), 5108; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22145108 - 07 Jul 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 762
Abstract
In this article, we present an efficient coding scheme for LiDAR point cloud maps. As a point cloud map consists of numerous single scans spliced together, by recording the time stamp and quaternion matrix of each scan during map building, we cast the [...] Read more.
In this article, we present an efficient coding scheme for LiDAR point cloud maps. As a point cloud map consists of numerous single scans spliced together, by recording the time stamp and quaternion matrix of each scan during map building, we cast the point cloud map compression into the point cloud sequence compression problem. The coding architecture includes two techniques: intra-coding and inter-coding. For intra-frames, a segmentation-based intra-prediction technique is developed. For inter-frames, an interpolation-based inter-frame coding network is explored to remove temporal redundancy by generating virtual point clouds based on the decoded frames. We only need to code the difference between the original LiDAR data and the intra/inter-predicted point cloud data. The point cloud map can be reconstructed according to the decoded point cloud sequence and quaternion matrices. Experiments on the KITTI dataset show that the proposed coding scheme can largely eliminate the temporal and spatial redundancies. The point cloud map can be encoded to 1/24 of its original size with 2 mm-level precision. Our algorithm also obtains better coding performance compared with the octree and Google Draco algorithms. Full article
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Article
Colored Petri Net Modelling and Evaluation of Drone Inspection Methods for Distribution Networks
Sensors 2022, 22(9), 3418; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22093418 - 29 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1047
Abstract
The UAV industry is developing rapidly and drones are increasingly used for monitoring industrial facilities. When designing such systems, operating companies have to find a system configuration of multiple drones that is near-optimal in terms of cost while achieving the required monitoring quality. [...] Read more.
The UAV industry is developing rapidly and drones are increasingly used for monitoring industrial facilities. When designing such systems, operating companies have to find a system configuration of multiple drones that is near-optimal in terms of cost while achieving the required monitoring quality. Stochastic influences such as failures and maintenance have to be taken into account. Model-based systems engineering supplies tools and methods to solve such problems. This paper presents a method to model and evaluate such UAV systems with coloured Petri nets. It supports a modular view on typical setup elements and different types of UAVs and is based on UAV application standards. The model can be easily adapted to the most popular flight tasks and allows for estimating the monitoring frequency and determining the most appropriate grouping and configuration of UAVs, monitoring schemes, air time and maintenance periods. An important advantage is the ability to consider drone maintenance processes. Thus, the methodology will be useful in the conceptual design phase of UAVs, in monitoring planning, and in the selection of UAVs for specific monitoring tasks. Full article
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Article
Tiny Vehicle Detection for Mid-to-High Altitude UAV Images Based on Visual Attention and Spatial-Temporal Information
Sensors 2022, 22(6), 2354; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22062354 - 18 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 915
Abstract
Mid-to-high altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) imagery can provide important remote sensing information between satellite and low altitude platforms, and vehicle detection in mid-to-high altitude UAV images plays a crucial role in land monitoring and disaster relief. However, the high background complexity of [...] Read more.
Mid-to-high altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) imagery can provide important remote sensing information between satellite and low altitude platforms, and vehicle detection in mid-to-high altitude UAV images plays a crucial role in land monitoring and disaster relief. However, the high background complexity of images and limited pixels of objects challenge the performance of tiny vehicle detection. Traditional methods suffer from poor adaptation ability to complex backgrounds, while deep neural networks (DNNs) have inherent defects in feature extraction of tiny objects with finite pixels. To address the issue above, this paper puts forward a vehicle detection method combining the DNNs-based and traditional methods for mid-to-high altitude UAV images. We first employ the deep segmentation network to exploit the co-occurrence of the road and vehicles, then detect tiny vehicles based on visual attention mechanism with spatial-temporal constraint information. Experimental results show that the proposed method achieves effective detection of tiny vehicles in complex backgrounds. In addition, ablation experiments are performed to inspect the effectiveness of each component, and comparative experiments on tinier objects are carried out to prove the superior generalization performance of our method in detecting vehicles with a limited size of 5 × 5 pixels or less. Full article
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Article
Lightweight Detection Network Based on Sub-Pixel Convolution and Objectness-Aware Structure for UAV Images
Sensors 2021, 21(16), 5656; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21165656 - 22 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1862
Abstract
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can serve as an ideal mobile platform in various situations. Real-time object detection with on-board apparatus provides drones with increased flexibility as well as a higher intelligence level. In order to achieve good detection results in UAV images with [...] Read more.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can serve as an ideal mobile platform in various situations. Real-time object detection with on-board apparatus provides drones with increased flexibility as well as a higher intelligence level. In order to achieve good detection results in UAV images with complex ground scenes, small object size and high object density, most of the previous work introduced models with higher computational burdens, making deployment on mobile platforms more difficult.This paper puts forward a lightweight object detection framework. Besides being anchor-free, the framework is based on a lightweight backbone and a simultaneous up-sampling and detection module to form a more efficient detection architecture. Meanwhile, we add an objectness branch to assist the multi-class center point prediction, which notably improves the detection accuracy and only takes up very little computing resources. The results of the experiment indicate that the computational cost of this paper is 92.78% lower than the CenterNet with ResNet18 backbone, and the mAP is 2.8 points higher on the Visdrone-2018-VID dataset. A frame rate of about 220 FPS is achieved. Additionally, we perform ablation experiments to check on the validity of each part, and the method we propose is compared with other representative lightweight object detection methods on UAV image datasets. Full article
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Article
ViTT: Vision Transformer Tracker
Sensors 2021, 21(16), 5608; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21165608 - 20 Aug 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2415
Abstract
This paper presents a new model for multi-object tracking (MOT) with a transformer. MOT is a spatiotemporal correlation task among interest objects and one of the crucial technologies of multi-unmanned aerial vehicles (Multi-UAV). The transformer is a self-attentional codec architecture that has been [...] Read more.
This paper presents a new model for multi-object tracking (MOT) with a transformer. MOT is a spatiotemporal correlation task among interest objects and one of the crucial technologies of multi-unmanned aerial vehicles (Multi-UAV). The transformer is a self-attentional codec architecture that has been successfully used in natural language processing and is emerging in computer vision. This study proposes the Vision Transformer Tracker (ViTT), which uses a transformer encoder as the backbone and takes images directly as input. Compared with convolution networks, it can model global context at every encoder layer from the beginning, which addresses the challenges of occlusion and complex scenarios. The model simultaneously outputs object locations and corresponding appearance embeddings in a shared network through multi-task learning. Our work demonstrates the superiority and effectiveness of transformer-based networks in complex computer vision tasks and paves the way for applying the pure transformer in MOT. We evaluated the proposed model on the MOT16 dataset, achieving 65.7% MOTA, and obtained a competitive result compared with other typical multi-object trackers. Full article
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