What is an Ad Hoc UAV Ground Network (AUGNet)?
AUGNet is a communication concept that combines unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with ad hoc wireless (aka mesh) networking. In this work, we consider small (10Kg) UAVs rather than large UAVs like Predator or Global Hawk. Such small UAVs are two orders of magnitude lower in cost and therefore greatly extend the cost benefit envelope for UAVs. We envision such UAVs used individually to support commercial remote sensing, scientific data collection, and tactical military operations. The low cost also enables multi-UAV cooperative swarming and flocking missions such as long baseline sensing, atmospheric gradient following, and wide area searches.
Ground radios often become disconnected from each other. Higher power can improve connectivity, but this increases battery requirements and radio signature. Ad hoc networks improve connectivity by allowing intermediate nodes to relay communication between radios in a cluster. But, even with ad hoc relays, radios can be separated from other radios and connectivity can not be assured. Radios mounted in UAVs are higher and have better communication paths with very good coverage. They can provide greatly improve connectivity between ground nodes.
Conversely, small UAVs have limited radios and antennas. Operational range is limited by communication range well before the fuel range. Ad hoc networking can allow UAV communication to be relayed by intermediate UAV and ground nodes and can greatly extend communication range. The ability of UAVs to form networks among themselves will enable multi-UAV missions.
TXB, May 12, 2004