Multidrone systems: More than the sum of the parts

Now that drones have evolved from bulky platforms to agile devices, a challenge is to combine multiple drones into an integrated autonomous system, offering functionality that individual drones cannot achieve.

Rinner, Bettstetter, Hellwagner, Weiss. Multidrone systems: More than the sum of its parts. Computer 54(5):34-43, 2021.

The paper „Multidrone systems: More than the sum of its parts“ jointly written with my colleagues Christian Bettstetter, Hermann Hellwagner and Stephan Weiss has been published in the May issue of the Computer magazine. We discuss required building blocks for multidrone systems along with case studies and lessons learned.

Multidrone systems (MDSs) have been the subject of our research at the University of Klagenfurt for more than 10 years (go to uav.aau.at). This article addresses the three key building blocks required to transform multiple single drones into an MDS: connectivity, communication, and coordination. Connectivity provides the hardware and software for wireless interconnection among the drones and to the ground; communication handles data distribution on top of connectivity; and coordination manages the tasks that need to be executed. We discuss the functionalities and design challenges of these blocks, considering the limited onboard resources; report about three case studies with different implementations of the building blocks; and conclude with a discussion of lessons learned.

The authors’ versions of the paper is available here.