UAV Communications: Spectral Requirements, MAV and SUAV Channel Modeling, OFDM Waveform Parameters, Performance and Spectrum Management

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Virginia Tech

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are expected to be deployed both by government and industry. Rules for integrating commercial UAVs into a nation's airspace still need to be defined, safety being the main concern. As part of this thesis, the communication needs of UAVs as important requirement for UAV integration into the national airspace is considered.

Motivated by recent prediction of UAV quantities, revealing the importance of Micro UAVs (MAV) and Small UAVs (SUAV), the thesis determines spectral requirements for control and non-payload communication (CNPC). We show that spectral efficiency, particularly in the downlink, is critical to the large-scale deployment of UAVs. Due to the limited range of small SUAV and MAV systems, communication between air and ground elements of these UAVs is established through radio Line-of-Sight (LoS) links. Ultimately, efficient LoS UAV systems are based on a better understanding of channels in the downlink, i.e. air-to-ground (A2G) channels, and also on efficient waveform as well as spectrum management implementation.

Because of limited research in wideband aeronautical channel modeling, we have derived an A2G channel prototype applicable to SUAV and MAV. As part of the research at Wire- less@VT in designing and prototyping Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) waveforms, this thesis derives the optimal parameters for SUAV and MAV A2G channels. Finally, the thesis discusses concepts that relate flight route with spectrum management as well as opportunities for a more dynamic spectrum allocation for UAV communication systems.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, OFDM, Spectrum Management, Air-to-Ground Channels