New cyber-physical system enables drone-carried broadband in disaster zones


[♪♪] Miles O’Brien:
These firefighters are brushing up
on their water rescue skills at the Tarrant County College
Fire Service Training Center, near Fort Worth. [♪♪] Miles O’Brien:
It’s a pretty intense drill. So much so,
they might not even notice the unmanned aerial vehicles,
or UAV’s, buzzing overhead. Yan Wan:
We’re trying to solve the problem of on-demand communication
in emergencies. Miles O’Brien:
With support from the National Science Foundation,
electrical engineer Yan Wan and a team from the University
of Texas at Arlington are developing a new generation
of “networked” UAV’s to bring long distance,
broadband communications capability to first responders
in the field. Yan Wan:
So, we’re doing this project for emergency
response operations, so the distance
is important. We need to get the information
from the very remote locations back to the local
management center. Miles O’Brien:
This facility with its disaster-zone mockups is ideal for field trials.
Their system involves two UAV’s. One flies over
a simulated highway “hazmat” accident,
training a video camera and other instruments
down on the wreckage. The other UAV hovers
at a distance, serving as an airborne
relay station to a command and control center
on the ground. Darrell Rutledge:
Obviously, it’s going to go where vehicles
and people can’t go. We can see
what we’re going into. We know exactly what we’re
going to have to deal with when we get there. [♪♪] Miles O’Brien:
The key component on each UAV is the directional antenna.
This is it – right here. Yan Wan:
So, both of these UAVs have directional antennas. The two directional antennas
need to be aligned such that there’s a robust
communication channel where the information
can be transmitted. Miles O’Brien:
The challenge is getting those antennas
to swivel around and auto-align
with each other in-flight. The mechanism they’ve designed is what’s called
a “cyber-physical system.” Hardware and software
on both UAV’s work together over the network to keep the two
antennas perfectly lined up even while the drones
are buffeted around by wind and weather. Yan Wan:
If they’re not aligned then the communication is distance
is significantly shortened, so making them
self-aligned is the key. [♪♪] Miles O’Brien:
When it’s fully functional, their system should provide
enough bandwidth to carry multiple video
and data streams over a distance
of three miles or more. They expect in the future that
whole fleets of networked UAV’s will navigate and fly themselves
during emergency operations, coordinating with each other
to avoid collisions. Yan Wan:
We can send out the UAVs and set up the communication
network in the air and provide the on-demand
communication service to the ground. Miles O’Brien:
They’ve tested their system in joint drills
with emergency response agencies from around
the state of Texas. [motor] Miles O’Brien:
Molly McFadden is an emergency
preparedness professional who has worked
with Wan and her team. She says communication
is a problem in the aftermath
of nearly every disaster. Power goes off, lines go down,
cellular networks go out. Molly McFadden:
So, responders really need to be able to communicate
with each other. Having an internet
or a Wi-Fi system via drones
that’s deployable and mobile to be able to support
emergency responses is critical really to be able
to enhance the communications, the safety,
the life safety, and saving people,
lives and property. Miles O’Brien:
Flying into disaster, designing networked UAV’s
to bring on-demand broadband to the danger zone. For Science Nation,
I’m Miles O’Brien.

3 thoughts on “New cyber-physical system enables drone-carried broadband in disaster zones

  1. National Science Foundation

    I have a question about elementary particles such as electrons as well as various quarks as well as neutrino particles
    As well as the article and antimatter
    Like the anti-electron positron
    And also the counter quark
    The question is about why these particles differ in rotation, mass, and charge
    We hope you find smart plans to reveal the secret of the difference between the elementary particles
    Was the difference between the particles due to the difference in the proportion of energy in the universe?
    Why are the primary particles different in mass, charge, and rotation?
    The third question
    Are there smaller molecules responsible for this difference?
    Please communicate my three questions to physicists

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