PAWR launches UAS-focused wireless research testbed

The latest wireless test bench on Advanced Wireless Research Platforms (PAWR), AERPAW, is officially available for research. The test bench, located in Raleigh, an area of ​​the North Carolina Research Triangle, focuses on research related to wireless technologies to maintain unmanned aerial systems or drones.

In connection with the total availability of the test bench, AERPAW is holding an event on the main campus of North Carolina State University over the next two days, which includes tours of AERPAW’s experimental areas, drone flights and demonstrations of software-defined radio experiments, training and post sessions, and panel sessions that will discuss how the test bench can be used for advanced wireless and drone experiments.

“The AERPAW platform uniquely combines a programmable wireless network with custom drones to enable the study of both airspace and wireless connectivity via 4G, 5G and beyond,” said Ismail Guvench, AERPAW’s principal investigator and engineer. engineering in the state of North Carolina. “Given the significant interest of the public and private sectors, we are excited to see where the first experiments lead and what early insights can emerge from the research community.”

The PAWR program now has three large-scale test benches: one in Salt Lake City, Utah with a software-defined end-to-end wireless network and a massive MIMO; one in West Harlem, New York, focused on mmWave research and innovation in reverse transmission technology; and AERPAW in North Carolina. A the fourth test bench is in operationwhich will cover 600 square miles from central Iowa. IN Agriculture and rural communities, or ARA, The test bench will focus on new strategies and technologies for expanding broadband access in rural areas and unique rural applications for modern wireless technologies.

The National Science Foundation funds the $ 100 million PAWR program, which is administered by US Ignite; The PAWR program office is run jointly by US Ignite and Northeastern University. As described by the PAWR program office, the AERPAW test bench “Is designed to accelerate the integration of UAS into national airspace and to enable the exploration of modern wireless technologies supporting dynamic, mobile and air networks.

In its first phase, the AERPAW test bench consists of two fixed network nodes at the Centennial Campus at North Carolina State University, along with a fixed-node tower located in the Lake Wheeler Field Laboratory, which is an agricultural site owned by university. There are also two air-mounted custom drone units and a portable ground rover unit, according to the PAWR program office. All nodes have software-defined radio stations that can use different open source software stacks and create different types of network environments.

AERPAW drone in flight seen from a second drone. Image: AERPAW, YouTube screenshot

Initially, AERPAW would allow researchers to pre-program a flight path for a drone so that signal measurement data could be collected, providing an idea of ​​radio performance and network optimization strategies at different speeds, directions, and locations in space.

Future experiments that will be supported, PAWR said, include “the ability to dynamically control the vehicle in motion, building new network nodes in the test bench
fingerprint and integration of commercial radio hardware and software along with open source network components.

AERPAW is run by the state of North Carolina, along with the Wireless Research Center
North Carolina, Renaissance Computing Institute, Mississippi State University, University of South Carolina, Purdue University, Curry, Raleigh, North Carolina Department of Transportation and many other academic, industrial and community partners.

“This is just the beginning for AERPAW,” said Mark Hoyt, vice chancellor for information technology in North Carolina. “We are excited to bring experimenters to the platform and look forward to expanding the test bench’s capabilities to allow for even greater academic and industrial innovation in wireless and unmanned aerial systems.”

Videos of initial drone test flights at Lake Wheeler’s site can be seen at AERPAW program page.