PAWR Program Announces Launch of AERPAW Testbed for Advanced Research on Wireless Connectivity and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

WASHINGTON – November 9, 2021 – Advanced Wireless Research Platforms (PAWR) Project Office announces total availability of AERPAW wireless test bench for network communications and research of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, the AERPAW test platform – or the Advanced Wireless Networks Experiment and Research Platform – is designed to accelerate the integration of UAS into national airspace and enable the exploration of advanced wireless technologies supporting dynamic, mobile and air networks.

In the first phase of operations, the AERPAW test bench includes two fixed network nodes on the Centennial Campus at North Carolina State University and a fixed node tower located in the Lake Wheeler Field Laboratory, an agricultural site owned by the university. These fixed units are combined with two air-mounted units of custom multicopter drones and one portable unit attached to a ground rover. All nodes have software-defined radio stations that can be configured to create different types of network environments using different open source software stacks.

Initially, AERPAW supported experiments with UAS, which allowed researchers to collect data from signal measurements with a single drone flying on a path pre-programmed by the researcher. Taking into account the variable speed, direction and location in space, this data collection will provide valuable information on radio performance and network optimization capabilities. Supported future experiments will include the dynamic ability to drive the vehicle in motion, build new network nodes within the test footprint, and integrate commercial radio hardware and software along with open source network components.

“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 has launched the development of four wireless test benches to be used as shared national infrastructure assets,” said Gurdip Singh, director of the computer and network systems department at the National Science Foundation. “AERPAW marks the third platform to reach universal availability and the first with a direct focus on application-level research through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. We could not be more pleased to acknowledge the progress made by the AERPAW team and welcome researchers to the North Carolina platform.

AERPAW is the result of a multi-institutional partnership led by the state of North Carolina with the Center for Wireless Research in North Carolina, Renaissance Computing Institute, Mississippi State University, University of South Carolina, Purdue University, Town of Cary, City of Raleigh, North Carolina Department of Transportation and many other academic, industrial and municipal 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.”

The PAWR program is funded by the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) and an industrial consortium of 35 leading wireless companies. It is managed by the PAWR project office, which is jointly managed by a non-profit organization US Ignite and Northeastern University. In addition to AERPAW, the platforms in the PAWR program include: POWDER in Salt Lake City, Utah; SPACE in New York; and NOW, a newly named rural broadband test bench in Ames, Iowa. The PAWR program includes other resources and facilities, including Colosseum, the largest radio frequency emulator in the world, and OpenAirX-Labs (OAX), neutral laboratory environment for benchmark development and testing, 5G open source software package.

For more information on the PAWR program, visit To see footage from a demonstration experiment with a drone on the AERPAW platform, visit AERPAW project update page.


About PAWR Project Office (PPO)
The Office of Advanced Wireless Research Projects (PPO) manages a $ 100 million public-private partnership and oversees research platforms. PPO is co-managed by US Ignite and Northeastern University and is funded by the US National Science Foundation and the PAWR Industry Consortium. PPO works closely with the wireless research community, local communities and industry, in part through the industry consortium, in the design, development, implementation and initial operations of research platforms.