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DroneSounder: Measuring Cellular Signals

There is a largely anticipated market for drones and applications of drones across many verticals. With thousands of drones roaming the skies, in many cases semi- or fully autonomously, there is an urgent need for robust, high bandwidth, and standardized technologies to enable drone-ground and drone-drone wireless communication. The purpose of the Drone Sounder project is to build a test platform for signal measurements and waveform prototyping over such links.

Each Drone Sounder will be comprised of a COTS drone, 1-2 mobile phones, a software-defined radio (SDR), and one or more radio antennas. Drone Sounder will enable the following signal measurements, in several frequency bands of interest:

  • Commercial or emulated cellular base stations on the ground to a drone
  • Drone to emulated cellular base stations on the ground
  • Drone interference to emulated mobile devices on the ground
  • Drone to drone communications

Detailed study of the measurement data will enable the project team to provide recommendations on the frequency bands to utilize for various aspects of drone communication (command and control, detect-and-avoid, navigation, and payload) for both drone-ground and drone-drone communication.

The Drone Sounder project started in January 2016 and is sponsored by InterDigital via the BWAC I/UCRC, an NSF program. Aaron Striegel, J. Nicholas Laneman, and Hai Lin are the PIs for this project.