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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (aka Drones)

November 28, 2019 at 10:00 am

258 Fitzpatrick Hall

Dr. Ananth Balasubramanian




Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are a profoundly disruptive technology poised to impact applications spanning several industries. UAVs will reshape economic, social, security, environmental and political landscapes over the decades to come with PwC predicting that the addressable market value of drone-powered solutions is over $127 billion. In addition to the primarily envisaged applications such as industrial inspections, agriculture, surveying, oil & gas, surveillance, package delivery, new use cases where a swarm of UAVs cooperate to accomplish a mission are being envisioned. With the goal of embracing the evolving perspective on UAVs that will be operated beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), there are several challenges that need to be addressed.  

Foremost among these are (i) ability to provide reliable communications for BVLOS operations, (ii) integration of UAV in the national airspace along with manned aircrafts, (iii) enabling an autonomous Detect and Avoid (DAA) for low altitude UAV operations and (iv) remote identification/tracking for safe UAV operations. With cellular communications being a natural choice for providing pervasive, reliable and BVLOS connectivity for UAVs, 3GPP standards body has started addressing these challenges for ensuring the coexistence of UAVs with terrestrial cellular users as part of LTE Rel-15. Acute differences in propagation conditions and interference patterns between terrestrial base stations and UAVs compared with terrestrial mobiles, higher mobility and velocity, stringent obligations in reliability and safety for DAA, ultra-low latency link for UAV command & control and swarm control need further enhancements some of which are being studied as part of 3GPP Rel-16/17 study items (currently in SA). 

Today’s Air traffic control (ATC) systems and DAA systems such as TCAS/ACAS cannot scale to enable safe operation of UAVs. There are several ongoing efforts in the industry/research centers to develop novel air-space management systems to streamline UAV operations and for these to coexist with manned aircraft. NASA is working on a low altitude Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) to assist FAA for operation in the United States, EUROCAE WG-105 (European Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment Working Group) for operation in European nations, and from a global perspective by Global UTM Association (GUTMA). DAA research to address low altitude UAV operational complexities and challenges in urban and suburban environments is still in its infancy. Presented in this seminar is an overview of the UAS ecosystem, regulatory and market perspectives, standardization activities, key technical challenges and provide insights for UAV communications, UTM, and DAA solutions to facilitate safe integration of UAVs into National Air Space.


Ananth Balasubramanian is a Senior Staff Engineer at InterDigital Labs where he conducts research on wireless communications for next-generation technologies. His current research interests are in enabling reliable & efficient communications for airborne, space-borne vehicles, and passive IoT devices. In the past, he has worked on Quality of Experience for video communications. He currently serves as Deputy Lead for UTM group in EUROCAE WG-105. He received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. He is the author/co-author of numerous journals, conference papers, and patents.

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