Autonomous flying WiFi access point

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aka drones, are widely used civil and commercial applications. A promising one is to use the drones as relying nodes to extend the wireless coverage. However, existing solutions only focus on deploying them to predefined locations. After that, they either remain stationary or only move in predefined trajectories throughout the whole deployment. In the open outdoor scenarios such as search and rescue or large music events, etc., users can move and cluster dynamically. As a result, network demand will change constantly over time and hence will require the drones to adapt dynamically. In this paper, we present a proof of concept implementation of an UAV access point (AP) which can dynamically reposition itself depends on the users movement on the ground. Our solution is to continuously keeping track of the received signal strength from the user devices for estimating the distance between users devices and the drone, followed by trilateration to localise them. This process is challenging because our on-site measurements show that the heterogeneity of user devices means that change of their signal strengths reacts very differently to the change of distance to the drone AP. Our initial results demonstrate that our drone is able to effectively localise users and autonomously moving to a position closer to them.