Drone (UAV) delivery in crisis (e.g. COVID era)

Author: Nozhan Hosseini, 30.Nov.2020

During COVID 2019-2020 time, people realized the importance of drone (UAV) delivery and the opportunity for expansion. Drone delivery was a dream 10 years ago but soon in 2012, the technology community bombarded with cheap, commercial, and user-friendly drones. Although many companies propose drone delivery such as Amazon, FedEx, etc, no mass and productive action took place since I believe "no urgency" situation for customers to pick up or fully contact ground deliveries. It is good to mention that U.S has only seen drone delivery in limited circumstances over small, unpopulated areas within the visual line of sight where ground delivery is limited. COVID generated a great opportunity to support drone delivery when people spend time indoors. 

From the communication, navigation, and regulation point of view, still many questions and concerns regarding drone integration to national airspace is exist. [1] reported, Alphabet/wing's company claimed book delivery to children in Christianburg Virginia, at least seven times. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is in charge of regulating all drone and airspace activity in U.S. Other countries have similar departments and organizations for this purpose. Another example is the collaboration of UPS Flight Forward and CVS to deliver personal prescriptions from nearby CVS stores. 

As described in [2], For small UAVs, the situation is less developed. Both the RTCA and the cellular community (i.e., 3GPP) are conducting investigations for this use case, but work is still in progress. NASA also has a UAS traffic management program (UTM) that is working to develop air traffic rules
and technologies for small UAVs at low altitudes, in coordination with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Multiple proof of concept field trials will be held in the coming two-three years. Physical and medium access control techniques will at least initially use commercial technologies such as cellular (LTE) and wireless local area networks (WiFi), but these are suboptimal in many UAV settings, over-designed for some CNPC links, and in addition are susceptible to jamming and spoofing. Hence work in this area is still continuing. 

Potential topics on this from a communication point of view: -Design of CNPC links telecommunication layers.



[1] J. Poss, "Are we wasting a perfectly good crisis?," Inside Unmanned Systems, Oct/Nov 2020.

[2] N. Hosseini, H. Jamal, J. Haque, T. Magesacher and D. W. Matolak, "UAV Command and Control, Navigation and Surveillance: A Review of Potential 5G and Satellite Systems," 2019 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, USA, 2019, pp. 1-10, doi: 10.1109/AERO.2019.8741719.