Ultra-fast, Autonomous, Reconfigurable UAV Disaster Communication System

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The recent years have witnessed an increase in natural disasters in which the destruction of essential communication infrastructure has significantly affected the number of casualties. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina in the United States resulted in over 1,900 deaths, three million land-line phones disconnections, and more than 2000 cell sites going out of service. This incident highlighted an urgent need for a quick-deployment, efficient communication network for emergency relief purposes. In this research, a fully autonomous system to deploy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as the first phase disaster recovery communication network for wide-area relief is presented. As part of this system, an automation algorithm has been developed to control the deployment and positioning of the UAVs based on a traditional cell network structure utilizing 7-cell clusters in a hexagonal pattern. In addition to the software algorithm, a fully functional control interface was developed which allowed for full control of the system both locally and over an internet connection. This system represents a novel approach for handling a large-scale autonomous deployment of a UAV communications networks.

Project Summary

  • Successfully developed a system and protocol to autonomously deploy multiple UAVs for emergency (or planned) communication relief in an outdoor setting.
  • Designed and developed a fully functional web-based flight control graphical user interface for system.
  • Created an algorithm for UAV swarming in a hexagonal cell pattern using GPS localization.
  • Developed a fly-by-wire system to autonomously control multiple UAVs by modifying open source flight control software.
  • Designed parts and equipment in SolidWorks to facilitate project.
  • Properly utilized the 915 MHz ISM band for telemetry.

Download a copy of the complete thesis here.

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