University of Oulu

M. Mozaffari, W. Saad, M. Bennis, Y. Nam and M. Debbah, "A Tutorial on UAVs for Wireless Networks: Applications, Challenges, and Open Problems," in IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 2334-2360, thirdquarter 2019. doi: 10.1109/COMST.2019.2902862

A tutorial on UAVs for wireless networks : applications, challenges, and open problems

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Author: Mozaffari, Mohammad1; Saad, Walid1; Bennis, Mehdi2;
Organizations: 1Wireless@VT, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Virginia Tech, VA, USA
2CWC - Centre for Wireless Communications, University of Oulu, Finland
3Standards & 5G Mobility Innovations Lab, Samsung Research America, Richardson, TX
4Mathematical and Algorithmic Sciences Lab, Huawei France R & D, Paris, France, and CentraleSupelec, Universite Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.9 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-12-09


The use of flying platforms such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), popularly known as drones, is rapidly growing. In particular, with their inherent attributes such as mobility, flexibility, and adaptive altitude, UAVs admit several key potential applications in wireless systems. On the one hand, UAVs can be used as aerial base stations to enhance coverage, capacity, reliability, and energy efficiency of wireless networks. On the other hand, UAVs can operate as flying mobile terminals within a cellular network. Such cellular-connected UAVs can enable several applications ranging from real-time video streaming to item delivery. In this paper, a comprehensive tutorial on the potential benefits and applications of UAVs in wireless communications is presented. Moreover, the important challenges and the fundamental tradeoffs in UAV-enabled wireless networks are thoroughly investigated. In particular, the key UAV challenges such as 3D deployment, performance analysis, channel modeling, and energy efficiency are explored along with representative results. Then, open problems and potential research directions pertaining to UAV communications are introduced. Finally, various analytical frameworks and mathematical tools, such as optimization theory, machine learning, stochastic geometry, transport theory, and game theory are described. The use of such tools for addressing unique UAV problems is also presented. In a nutshell, this tutorial provides key guidelines on how to analyze, optimize, and design UAV-based wireless communication systems.

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Series: IEEE communications surveys and tutorials
ISSN: 1553-877X
ISSN-E: 2373-745X
ISSN-L: 1553-877X
Volume: 21
Issue: 3
Pages: 2334 - 2360
DOI: 10.1109/COMST.2019.2902862
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 213 Electronic, automation and communications engineering, electronics
Funding: This work was supported in part by the Army Research Office under Grant W911NF-17-1-0593, and in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Grant IIS-1633363.
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