In the near future, more than two thirds of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities and hence, with the aim of being proactive and finding innovative and sustainable solutions, governments have made smart cities one of their priority areas of research. Smart cities are sustainable, inclusive and prosperous greener cities that foster enabling smart Information and Communication Technologies (smart ICT) like Internet-of-Things (IoT), cloud computing and big data to facilitate services such as mobility, governance, utility and energy management. As these services depend heavily on data collected by sensors, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have quickly become one of the promising IoT devices for smart cities thanks to their mobility, agility and customizability of onboard sensors. UAVs found use in a wide array of applications expanding beyond military to more commercial ones, ranging from monitoring, surveillance, mapping to parcel delivery and more demanding applications that require UAVs to operate in heterogeneous swarms in a shared low-altitude airspace over populated cities. However, as the number of UAVs continues to grow and as their sensing, actuation, communication and control capabilities become increasingly sophisticated, UAV deployment in smart cities is faced with a set of fundamental challenges in their safe operation and management. These challenges emphasize the need for establishing globally-harmonised regulations and internationally-agreed-upon technical standards to govern the rapid technological advancements, as well as ensure a fair economy by encouraging market competition and lowering barriers to entry for newcomers. As various Standardisation Development Organisations (SDOs) recently recognised the need, importance and potential of such regulations, most have established dedicated working groups addressing UAVs. However, most current SDO committees focus on aspects such as vehicle categorisation, specifications and operational procedures, but one usually overlooked elementary topic is UAV localisation. Due to its importance and close relation to other technical subsystems, the lack of a resilient, scalable and efficient standardised UAV localisation and tracking system is one of the main obstructing barriers hindering the integration and interoperability of UAV swarms in smart cities and hence impeding the realisation of their vast application benefits. In this work, we focus on studying the fundamental technical requirements, specifications and functions of such UAV localisation and tracking system, and explore its relationship to and importance in 1) optimising path planning, flight scheduling and utilising shared airspace, 2) collision avoidance and conflict resolution in highly populated residential areas and 3) addressing privacy and data protection concerns that could arise from UAV monitoring and surveillance applications. Furthermore, for each of the three aspects, we analyse current SDOs efforts such as those put forth by EASA, EUROCAE WG73 and ISO TC20/SC16 on UAV systems, ISO JTC1/SC41 on IoT and related technologies and ISO JTC1/SC27, EU Directive 95/46 EC and GDPR on security, privacy and data protection, in order to identify and prioritise future research questions in relation to UAV localisation, aiming to make a contribution towards narrowing the gap between research and existing technical standards by encouraging multimode standardisation. This research was conducted in collaboration with ILNAS - the Institut Luxembourgeois de la Normalisation, de l’Accréditation, de la Sécurité et qualité des produits et services (ILNAS) under the authority of the Minister of Economy, Luxembourg.
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