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Special Issue "UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2020) | Viewed by 17810

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Arturo de la Escalera Hueso
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Systems Engineering and Automation, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, 28118 Madrid, Spain
Interests: autonomous aerial and ground vehicles; environment perception; navigation
Prof. Dr. David Martín Gómez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Intelligent Systems Laboratory , Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Calle Madrid, 126, 28903 Getafe, Spain
Interests: real-time perception systems; computer vision; sensor fusion; autonomous ground vehicles; unmanned aerial vehicles, and navigation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Abdulla Al-Kaff
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Intelligent Systems Lab, Carlos III University of Madrid, Calle Madrid, 126, 28903 Getafe, Madrid, Spain
Interests: intelligent vehicles; perception systems; intelligent transportation systems; unmanned aerial vehicles and navigation systems
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The field of research in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is one that has grown the most in popularity and has shown a higher rate of results in recent years. The increasingly low cost of the vehicles themselves, the sensors needed to perceive the environment, the improvement of the communications between vehicles, as well as the increase in computing capacity of embedded computers, have achieved that an increasing and diverse number of applications can be addressed by using UAVs.

The aim of this Special Issue it to cover theoretical, experimental and operational aspects related to the field of the Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAVs); in order to advance and promote the actual research works and to present to the scientific community the novel techniques on emerging UAV models and techniques.

Therefore, we invite applicants to look over the recent advances in Sensor Systems and Applications for UAVs and call for innovative works that explore frontiers and challenges in the field.

The topics of interest include but are not limited to the following:

  • Embedded/Onboard Systems
  • Navigation and localization systems
  • Perception and Sensing
  • Data processing and analysis methods for sensor information acquired by sensors installed on UAVs
  • Decision making on real aerial scenarios.
  • Multi-UAVs coordination and cooperation
  • New applications for UAVs
  • New UAVs software architectures
  • Sensor fusion for environment perception
  • UAVs design
  • UAVs mission planning

Please contact the Guest Editors if you have any questions about whether your proposed article would fit the scope of this Special Issue

Prof. Dr. Arturo de la Escalera Hueso
Dr. David Martín Gómez
Dr. Abdulla Al-Kaff
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.

Keywords

  • computer vision-inspired solutions
  • control
  • cyber-security
  • deep learning for aerial environment understanding
  • embedded systems
  • mechatronics
  • multi-UAS coordination
  • navigation
  • obstacle detection and avoidance
  • perception
  • ROS-based architectures for UAVs
  • sensor fusion
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Article
Cooperative UAV–UGV Autonomous Power Pylon Inspection: An Investigation of Cooperative Outdoor Vehicle Positioning Architecture
Sensors 2020, 20(21), 6384; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20216384 - 09 Nov 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1669
Abstract
Realizing autonomous inspection, such as that of power distribution lines, through unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems is a key research domain in robotics. In particular, the use of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles to execute the tasks of an inspection process can enhance the [...] Read more.
Realizing autonomous inspection, such as that of power distribution lines, through unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems is a key research domain in robotics. In particular, the use of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles to execute the tasks of an inspection process can enhance the efficacy and safety of the operation; however, many technical problems, such as those pertaining to the precise positioning and path following of the vehicles, robust obstacle detection, and intelligent control, must be addressed. In this study, an innovative architecture involving an unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) and an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) was examined for detailed inspections of power lines. In the proposed strategy, each vehicle provides its position information to the other, which ensures a safe inspection process. The results of real-world experiments indicate a satisfactory performance, thereby demonstrating the feasibility of the proposed approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications)
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Article
New Approach of UAV Movement Detection and Characterization Using Advanced Signal Processing Methods Based on UWB Sensing
Sensors 2020, 20(20), 5904; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20205904 - 19 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1778
Abstract
In the last years, the commercial drone/unmanned aerial vehicles market has grown due to their technological performances (provided by the multiple onboard available sensors), low price, and ease of use. Being very attractive for an increasing number of applications, their presence represents a [...] Read more.
In the last years, the commercial drone/unmanned aerial vehicles market has grown due to their technological performances (provided by the multiple onboard available sensors), low price, and ease of use. Being very attractive for an increasing number of applications, their presence represents a major issue for public or classified areas with a special status, because of the rising number of incidents. Our paper proposes a new approach for the drone movement detection and characterization based on the ultra-wide band (UWB) sensing system and advanced signal processing methods. This approach characterizes the movement of the drone using classical methods such as correlation, envelope detection, time-scale analysis, but also a new method, the recurrence plot analysis. The obtained results are compared in terms of movement map accuracy and required computation time in order to offer a future starting point for the drone intrusion detection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications)
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Article
Power Control and Clustering-Based Interference Management for UAV-Assisted Networks
Sensors 2020, 20(14), 3864; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20143864 - 10 Jul 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1100
Abstract
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has been widely used in various applications of wireless network. A system of UAVs has the function of collecting data, offloading traffic for ground Base Stations (BSs) and illuminating coverage holes. However, inter-UAV interference is easily introduced because of [...] Read more.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has been widely used in various applications of wireless network. A system of UAVs has the function of collecting data, offloading traffic for ground Base Stations (BSs) and illuminating coverage holes. However, inter-UAV interference is easily introduced because of the huge number of LoS paths in the air-to-ground channel. In this paper, we propose an interference management framework for UAV-assisted networks, consisting of two main modules: power control and UAV clustering. The power control is executed first to adjust the power levels of UAVs. We model the problem of power control for UAV networks as a non-cooperative game which is proved to be an exact potential game and the Nash equilibrium is reached. Next, to further improve system user rate, coordinated multi-point (CoMP) technique is implemented. The cooperative UAV sets are established to serve users and thus transforming the interfering links into useful links. Affinity propagation is applied to build clusters of UAVs based on the interference strength. Simulation results show that the proposed algorithm integrating power control with CoMP can effectively reduce the interference and improve system sum-rate, compared to Non-CoMP scenario. The law of cluster formation is also obtained where the average cluster size and the number of clusters are affected by inter-UAV distance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications)
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Article
An Efficient Distributed Area Division Method for Cooperative Monitoring Applications with Multiple UAVs
Sensors 2020, 20(12), 3448; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20123448 - 18 Jun 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1417
Abstract
This article addresses the area division problem in a distributed manner providing a solution for cooperative monitoring missions with multiple UAVs. Starting from a sub-optimal area division, a distributed online algorithm is presented to accelerate the convergence of the system to the optimal [...] Read more.
This article addresses the area division problem in a distributed manner providing a solution for cooperative monitoring missions with multiple UAVs. Starting from a sub-optimal area division, a distributed online algorithm is presented to accelerate the convergence of the system to the optimal solution, following a frequency-based approach. Based on the “coordination variables” concept and on a strict neighborhood relation to share information (left, right, above and below neighbors), this technique defines a distributed division protocol to determine coherently the size and shape of the sub-area assigned to each UAV. Theoretically, the convergence time of the proposed solution depends linearly on the number of UAVs. Validation results, comparing the proposed approach with other distributed techniques, are provided to evaluate and analyze its performance following a convergence time criterion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications)
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Article
Internet of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: QoS Provisioning in Aerial Ad-Hoc Networks
Sensors 2020, 20(11), 3160; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20113160 - 02 Jun 2020
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 1634
Abstract
Aerial ad-hoc networks have the potential to enable smart services while maintaining communication between the ground system and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Previous research has focused on enabling aerial data-centric smart services while integrating the benefits of aerial objects such as UAVs in [...] Read more.
Aerial ad-hoc networks have the potential to enable smart services while maintaining communication between the ground system and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Previous research has focused on enabling aerial data-centric smart services while integrating the benefits of aerial objects such as UAVs in hostile and non-hostile environments. Quality of service (QoS) provisioning in UAV-assisted communication is a challenging research theme in aerial ad-hoc networks environments. Literature on aerial ad hoc networks lacks cooperative service-oriented modeling for distributed network environments, relying on costly static base station-oriented centralized network environments. Towards this end, this paper proposes a quality of service provisioning framework for a UAV-assisted aerial ad hoc network environment (QSPU) focusing on reliable aerial communication. The UAV’s aerial mobility and service parameters are modelled considering highly dynamic aerial ad-hoc environments. UAV-centric mobility models are utilized to develop a complete aerial routing framework. A comparative performance evaluation demonstrates the benefits of the proposed aerial communication framework. It is evident that QSPU outperforms the state-of-the-art techniques in terms of a number of service-oriented performance metrics in a UAV-assisted aerial ad-hoc network environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications)
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Article
Design of Airport Obstacle-Free Zone Monitoring UAV System Based on Computer Vision
Sensors 2020, 20(9), 2475; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20092475 - 27 Apr 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1688
Abstract
In recent years, a rising number of incidents between Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and planes have been reported at airports and airfields. A design scheme for an airport obstacle-free zone monitoring UAV system based on computer vision is proposed. The system integrates the [...] Read more.
In recent years, a rising number of incidents between Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and planes have been reported at airports and airfields. A design scheme for an airport obstacle-free zone monitoring UAV system based on computer vision is proposed. The system integrates the functions of identification, tracking, and expelling and is mainly used for low-cost control of balloon airborne objects and small aircrafts. First, a quadcopter dynamic model and 2-Degrees of Freedom (2-DOF) Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) model are analyzed, and an attitude back-stepping controller based on disturbance compensation is designed. Second, a low and slow small-target self-identification and tracking technology is constructed against a complex environment. Based on the You Only Look Once (YOLO) and Kernel Correlation Filter (KCF) algorithms, an autonomous target recognition and high-speed tracking plan with great robustness and high reliability is designed. Third, a PTZ controller and automatic aiming strategy based on Anti-Windup Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) algorithm is designed, and a simplified, automatic-aiming expelling device, the environmentally friendly gel ball blaster, which features high speed and high accuracy, is built. The feasibility and stability of the project can be verified through prototype experiments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications)
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Article
Latency Compensated Visual-Inertial Odometry for Agile Autonomous Flight
Sensors 2020, 20(8), 2209; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20082209 - 14 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1286
Abstract
In visual-inertial odometry (VIO), inertial measurement unit (IMU) dead reckoning acts as the dynamic model for flight vehicles while camera vision extracts information about the surrounding environment and determines features or points of interest. With these sensors, the most widely used algorithm for [...] Read more.
In visual-inertial odometry (VIO), inertial measurement unit (IMU) dead reckoning acts as the dynamic model for flight vehicles while camera vision extracts information about the surrounding environment and determines features or points of interest. With these sensors, the most widely used algorithm for estimating vehicle and feature states for VIO is an extended Kalman filter (EKF). The design of the standard EKF does not inherently allow for time offsets between the timestamps of the IMU and vision data. In fact, sensor-related delays that arise in various realistic conditions are at least partially unknown parameters. A lack of compensation for unknown parameters often leads to a serious impact on the accuracy of VIO systems and systems like them. To compensate for the uncertainties of the unknown time delays, this study incorporates parameter estimation into feature initialization and state estimation. Moreover, computing cross-covariance and estimating delays in online temporal calibration correct residual, Jacobian, and covariance. Results from flight dataset testing validate the improved accuracy of VIO employing latency compensated filtering frameworks. The insights and methods proposed here are ultimately useful in any estimation problem (e.g., multi-sensor fusion scenarios) where compensation for partially unknown time delays can enhance performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications)
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Article
Robust Outlier-Adaptive Filtering for Vision-Aided Inertial Navigation
Sensors 2020, 20(7), 2036; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20072036 - 04 Apr 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1416
Abstract
With the advent of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a major area of interest in the research field of UAVs has been vision-aided inertial navigation systems (V-INS). In the front-end of V-INS, image processing extracts information about the surrounding environment and determines features or [...] Read more.
With the advent of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a major area of interest in the research field of UAVs has been vision-aided inertial navigation systems (V-INS). In the front-end of V-INS, image processing extracts information about the surrounding environment and determines features or points of interest. With the extracted vision data and inertial measurement unit (IMU) dead reckoning, the most widely used algorithm for estimating vehicle and feature states in the back-end of V-INS is an extended Kalman filter (EKF). An important assumption of the EKF is Gaussian white noise. In fact, measurement outliers that arise in various realistic conditions are often non-Gaussian. A lack of compensation for unknown noise parameters often leads to a serious impact on the reliability and robustness of these navigation systems. To compensate for uncertainties of the outliers, we require modified versions of the estimator or the incorporation of other techniques into the filter. The main purpose of this paper is to develop accurate and robust V-INS for UAVs, in particular, those for situations pertaining to such unknown outliers. Feature correspondence in image processing front-end rejects vision outliers, and then a statistic test in filtering back-end detects the remaining outliers of the vision data. For frequent outliers occurrence, variational approximation for Bayesian inference derives a way to compute the optimal noise precision matrices of the measurement outliers. The overall process of outlier removal and adaptation is referred to here as “outlier-adaptive filtering”. Even though almost all approaches of V-INS remove outliers by some method, few researchers have treated outlier adaptation in V-INS in much detail. Here, results from flight datasets validate the improved accuracy of V-INS employing the proposed outlier-adaptive filtering framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications)
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Article
Weak Knock Characteristic Extraction of a Two-Stroke Spark Ignition UAV Engine Burning RP-3 Kerosene Fuel Based on Intrinsic Modal Functions Energy Method
Sensors 2020, 20(4), 1148; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20041148 - 19 Feb 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1015
Abstract
To solve the problem of the weak knock characteristic extraction for a port-injected two-stoke spark ignition (SI) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) engine burning aviation kerosene fuel, which is also known as the Rocket Propellant 3 (RP-3), the Intrinsic modal Functions Energy (IMFE) method [...] Read more.
To solve the problem of the weak knock characteristic extraction for a port-injected two-stoke spark ignition (SI) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) engine burning aviation kerosene fuel, which is also known as the Rocket Propellant 3 (RP-3), the Intrinsic modal Functions Energy (IMFE) method is proposed according to the orthogonality of the intrinsic modal functions (IMFs). In this method, engine block vibration signals of the two-stroke SI UAV engine are decomposed into a finite number of intrinsic modal function (IMF) components. Then, the energy weight value of each IMF component is calculated, and the IMF component with the largest energy weight value is selected as the dominant characteristic component. The knock characteristic frequency of the two-stroke SI UAV engine is obtained by analyzing the frequency spectrum of the dominant characteristic component. A simulation experiment is designed and the feasibility of the algorithm is verified. The engine block vibration signals of the two-stroke SI UAV engine at 5100 rpm and 5200 rpm were extracted by this method. The results showed that the knock characteristic frequencies of engine block vibration signals at 5100 rpm and 5200 rpm were 3.320 kHz and 3.125 kHz, respectively. The Wavelet Packet Energy method was used to extract the characteristics of the same engine block vibration signal at 5200 rpm, and the same result as the IMFE method is obtained, which verifies the effectiveness of the IMFE method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications)
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Article
A Semi-Physical Platform for Guidance and Formations of Fixed-Wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Sensors 2020, 20(4), 1136; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20041136 - 19 Feb 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1570
Abstract
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have multi-domain applications, fixed-wing UAVs being a widely used class. Despite the ongoing research on the topics of guidance and formation control of fixed-wing UAVs, little progress is known on implementation of semi-physical validation platforms (software-in-the-loop or hardware-in-the-loop) for [...] Read more.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have multi-domain applications, fixed-wing UAVs being a widely used class. Despite the ongoing research on the topics of guidance and formation control of fixed-wing UAVs, little progress is known on implementation of semi-physical validation platforms (software-in-the-loop or hardware-in-the-loop) for such complex autonomous systems. A semi-physical simulation platform should capture not only the physical aspects of UAV dynamics, but also the cybernetics aspects such as the autopilot and the communication layers connecting the different components. Such a cyber-physical integration would allow validation of guidance and formation control algorithms in the presence of uncertainties, unmodelled dynamics, low-level control loops, communication protocols and unreliable communication: These aspects are often neglected in the design of guidance and formation control laws for fixed-wing UAVs. This paper describes the development of a semi-physical platform for multi-fixed wing UAVs where all the aforementioned points are carefully integrated. The environment adopts Raspberry Pi’s programmed in C++, which can be interfaced to standard autopilots (PX4) as a companion computer. Simulations are done in a distributed setting with a server program designed for the purpose of routing data between nodes, handling the user inputs and configurations of the UAVs. Gazebo-ROS is used as a 3D visualization tool. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications)
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Article
Single Neural Adaptive PID Control for Small UAV Micro-Turbojet Engine
Sensors 2020, 20(2), 345; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20020345 - 08 Jan 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2606
Abstract
The micro-turbojet engine (MTE) is especially suitable for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Because the rotor speed is proportional to the thrust force, the accurate speed tracking control is indispensable for MTE. Thanks to its simplicity, the proportional–integral–derivative (PID) controller is commonly used for [...] Read more.
The micro-turbojet engine (MTE) is especially suitable for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Because the rotor speed is proportional to the thrust force, the accurate speed tracking control is indispensable for MTE. Thanks to its simplicity, the proportional–integral–derivative (PID) controller is commonly used for rotor speed regulation. However, the PID controller cannot guarantee superior performance over the entire operation range due to the time-variance and strong nonlinearity of MTE. The gain scheduling approach using a family of linear controllers is recognized as an efficient alternative, but such a solution heavily relies on the model sets and pre-knowledge. To tackle such challenges, a single neural adaptive PID (SNA-PID) controller is proposed herein for rotor speed control. The new controller featuring with a single-neuron network is able to adaptively tune the gains (weights) online. The simple structure of the controller reduces the computational load and facilitates the algorithm implementation on low-cost hardware. Finally, the proposed controller is validated by numerical simulations and experiments on the MTE in laboratory conditions, and the results show that the proposed controller achieves remarkable effectiveness for speed tracking control. In comparison with the PID controller, the proposed controller yields 54% and 66% reductions on static tracking error under two typical cases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Smart Sensor Systems and Applications)
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