Electrical engineer Yan Wan is teaching drones how to be a team. For her National Science Foundation CAREER award, the associate professor investigated networking solutions to enable multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to accomplish a single goal with limited physical resource constraints. One of the findings was recently published in IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems.
“We found that layered structures—in which multiple groups of UAVs communicate with one another through group leaders—are very promising to control networked UAVs,” Dr. Wan says. “We proved that such structures can significantly reduce communication throughput while still allowing efficient completion of distributed control tasks.”
Her research, while still in the theoretical stages, could have an impact on the design of future unmanned vehicle networks—even, potentially, UAVs that work without human controllers. Understanding how to build networks that consider both control and communication needs would increase efficiency, reduce throughput requirements, and improve network management capabilities.