Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have found fast-growing applications during the past few years. In June 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States released the operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), which will further spur the fast growth of the global UAV industry in the coming years. As such, it is imperative to develop innovative communication technologies for supporting reliable UAV command and control (C&C), as well as mission-related payload communication. However, traditional UAV systems mainly rely on the simple direct communication between the UAV and the ground pilot over the unlicensed spectrum (e.g., ISM 2.4GHz), which is typically of low data rate, unreliable, insecure, vulnerable to interference, difficult to legitimately monitor, and manage, and can only operate within the visual line of sight (LoS) range.
To overcome the above limitations, there has been significant interest in integrating UAVs into cellular communication systems. On the one hand, UAVs with their own missions could be connected to cellular networks as new aerial users. Thanks to the advanced cellular technologies and almost ubiquitous accessibility of cellular networks, cellular-connected UAV is expected to achieve orders-of-magnitude performance improvement over the existing point-to-point UAV communications. It also offers an effective option to strengthen the legitimate UAV monitoring and management and achieve more robust UAV navigation by utilizing cellular signals as a complement to GPS (Global Position System). On the other hand, dedicated UAVs could be deployed as aerial base stations (BSs), access points (APs), or relays, to assist terrestrial wireless communications from the sky, leading to another paradigm known as UAV-assisted communications. UAV-assisted communications have several promising advantages, such as the ability to facilitate on-demand deployment, high flexibility in network reconfiguration, high chance of having LoS communication links, and enable numerous applications such as BS traffic offloading, information dissemination, and collection for Internet of Things (IoTs).
UAV communications are significantly different from conventional communication systems, due to the high altitude and high mobility of UAVs, the unique channel of UAV-ground links, the asymmetric quality of service (QoS) requirements for downlink C&C and uplink mission-related data transmission, the stringent constraints imposed by the size, weight, and power (SWAP) limitations of UAVs, as well as the additional design degrees of freedom enabled by joint UAV mobility control and communication resource allocation.
Considering the great success of previous special issues on “Integrating UAVs into 5G”, we aim to organize this new special issue on “Integrating UAVs into 5G and Beyond” to bring together academic researchers, industrial practitioners, and individuals working on this emerging exciting research areas to share their new ideas, latest findings, and state-of-the-art results. Topics of interest for this special issue include but are not limited to the following:
Channel measurement and modeling for UAV-BS/UAV-terminal/UAV-UAV communication links
Network architectures and communication protocols for UAV communications
Spectrum management and multiple access schemes for cellular-connected UAVs
Interference mitigation for cellular-connected UAVs
Massive MIMO/Millimeter-wave communications for cellular-connected UAVs
3D aerial BS placement and online/offline UAV trajectory optimization
Joint trajectory design and resource allocation for UAV communications
Energy consumption model and energy supplying methods of UAVs
Energy-efficient UAV communications
Theoretical frameworks for the analysis of UAV communications
System-level simulation studies of UAV communications
Cybersecurity and physicals security of UAV communications
Machine learning for UAV communications
Experimental performance demonstrations, prototyping, and field-tests of UAV communications
Economical frameworks for UAV communications, e.g., cost studies, business models, etc.
Regulatory schemes for UAV communications, e.g., safety operation, privacy protection, etc.