Drone Cellular Networks

A key enabler for future cooperative autonomous vehicles is wireless networking between these vehicles. These networks, however, suffer from communication outages brought about by radio obstacles. This is one reason why protocols often don’t rely on only one channel but often use multiple channels in parallel to circumvent this issue. Future smart cities will not just host smart vehicles (such as autonomous cars or trucks) on the road, but (in the shape of unmanned aerial vehicles, drones) also in the air. It is, therefore, a straightforward extension to connect both networks wirelessly and to employ (wireless) networks of drones as supporting networks for (wireless) networks of cars [1]. This could be done by using cellular network technology. One idea is to assist cellular networks for vehicles (or other user devices) by drones that are equipped with a cellular base station. However, drones might face drawbacks regarding cellular networks, because antennas of an eNodeB are down tilted to maximize the coverage for terrestrial devices. Thus, a drone might be out of coverage even it is relatively close by an eNodeB.

Goals of the thesis

In this thesis, we want to investigate the capabilities of drones regarding the current 3GPP standard in cellular networks. On one side, this includes the capabilities to support local cellular networks with drones, but also problems regarding the connectivity between drones and eNodeBs due to the flight altitude and the antenna orientation. The investigation will be done by utilizing simulations. Building on Veins, an open-source vehicular network simulation framework that can simulate wireless networks of cars, and inet, an open-source model suite for the OMNeT++ discrete event simulator, the thesis will analyze the capabilities of drone cellular networks especially in urban areas. Consequently, different metrics to measure channel characteristics and the drone properties have to be considered.


C++, Network Simulation, Drones, Cellular Networks

[1] W. Shi, H. Zhou, J. Li, W. Xu, N. Zhang, and X. Shen, “Drone Assisted Vehicular Networks: Architecture, Challenges and Opportunities,” IEEE Network, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 130–137, May 2018. https://doi.org/10.1109/MNET.2017.1700206.

[2] M. Mozaffari, W. Saad, M. Bennis, Y. Nam and M. Debbah, “A Tutorial on UAVs for Wireless Networks: Applications, Challenges, and Open Problems,” in IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 2334-2360, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1109/COMST.2019.2902862