Relief and Emergency Communication Network Based on an Autonomous Decentralized UAV Clustering Network

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

IEEE Southeast Conference




The recent years have witnessed an increase in the natural disasters in which the destruction of the essential communication infrastructure has significantly affected the number of casualties. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina in the United States resulted in over 1,900 deaths, 3 million land-line phones disconnections, and more than 2,000 cell sites going out of service. This incident highlighted an urgent need for a quick-deployment efficient communication network for relief purposes. In this paper, we propose a fully autonomous system to deploy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) as the first phase disaster recovery communication network for wide-area relief. An automation algorithm has been developed to control the deployment and positioning of UAVs based on a traditional cell network structure utilizing 7-cell clusters in a hexagonal pattern using MAVLink. The distributed execution of the algorithm is based on a centralized management of UAV cells through assigning higher ranked UAVs referred to as supernodes. The algorithm autonomously elects supernodes based on weighted variables and dynamically handles any changes in total number of UAVs in the system. This system represents a novel approach for handling a large-scale autonomous deployment of a UAV communications network. The proposed autonomous communication network was verified and validated using software simulation and physical demonstration using identical quadrotor UAVs.