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5G-Sky: Interconnecting the Sky in 5G and Beyond – A Joint Communication and Control Approach

Title: 5G-Sky: Interconnecting the Sky in 5G and Beyond – A Joint Communication and Control Approach
Funding Source: FNR-CORE
Principal investigator: Prof. Björn Ottersten
Vice principal investigator: Prof. Holger Voos
Researchers: Prof. Symeon ChatzinotasDr. Miguel Olivares MendezDr. Shree Krishna Sharma (VPI), Dr. Jorge Querol Borras, Dr. Dario Cazzato, Dr. Jose Luis Sanchez Lopez

Duration: from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2022, 3 years

About the Project

Low-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones, have enabled a plethora of personal and commercial applications including aerial photography and sightseeing, parcel delivery, search-and-rescue, monitoring and surveillance, and precision farming. Improving the operation range and safety of drones has led to increasing interest in connecting drones over licensed spectrum and cellular infrastructure for reliable beyond-visual-LoS communication and control.

Meanwhile, mobile aerial relays/BSs deployed onboard drones can establish, enhance, and recover cellular coverage in real-time for ground users in remote, densely populated, or disastrous areas where cellular infrastructure is unavailable, becomes congested, or has been sabotaged, respectively. This new cellular communication and networking paradigm unlocks an unprecedented opportunity for intelligent cellular network operation in both normal and disaster scenarios, whereby the cellular infrastructure would no longer keep a fixed topology but support versatile spatial-temporal variations proactively and intelligently adapted to the cellular traffic demands.

To address the socioeconomic impact of emerging aerial users and aerial relays/BSs, both industry and academia are embracing a technological transition towards 3D mobile communication and networking in the forthcoming fifth-generation (5G) rollout, where the sky as the host of various airborne applications and services would be interconnected with terrestrial cellular networks to improve communication and daily life.

Fig. 1 A representative 3D mobile cellular network consisting of aerial users and aerial BSs.


In this context, the overarching goal of this project is to advance the study of cellular-connected drones in 5G and beyond via

  • assessing the applicability of 5G new radio (NR) technologies and the required enhancements towards reliable, long-range, and efficient drone communication and control,
  • resolving key challenges for drone communication and control through novel hardware (such as antenna design and deployment) and software (including communication protocols, drone control schemes, signal processing algorithms, and network architectures) designs,
  • investigating the impact of 3D mobile drones and necessary changes on 5G terrestrial communication, signal processing, resource allocation and networking, and
  • testing drone communication and control with practical experimentation setups and in the national 5G network testbed. 


Fig. 2 Examples of in-lab and field drone experiments carried out by the team


Project Partners:

  • SnT, University of Luxembourg
  • POST Luxembourg

Advisory Committee:

  • Department of Media, Telecommunications and Digital Policy (under Ministry of the State)
  • Digital Luxembourg