UAV, drone, search, optimization, communication, surveillance, trajectory optimization, search and rescue, performance


An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) swarm allows for a more time-efficient method of searching a specified area than a single UAV or piloted plane. There are a variety of factors that affect how well an area is surveyed. We specifically analyzed the effect both vehicle properties and communication had on the swarm search performance. We used non-dimensionalization to examine the effect vehicle properties had on search performance so the results can be applied to any domain size with any number and type of vehicle. We found that even if vehicles could only sense 10% of the grid area at any given time step, 92% of the grid could still be searched by using a vehicle with good maneuverability and endurance. Conversely, if the chosen vehicle had poor maneuverability 92% of the grid could still be searched by keeping the endurance high and increasing the amount of area the vehicles could sense at one time to 70% of the domain area. In addition, we also examined four communication cases with different amounts of information regarding vehicle location. We found communication increased search performance by at least 6.3%. However, increasing the amount of information only changed the performance by 2.3%.

Original Publication Citation

Newcomb, J. E., and Ning, A., “The Effect of Communication and Vehicle Properties on the Search Performance of a Swarm of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” AIAA Scitech 2019 Forum, San Diego, CA, Jan. 2019. doi:10.2514/6.2019-1573

Document Type

Conference Paper

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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor