On the Potential of 5G mmWave Pencil Beam Antennas for UAV Communications: An Experimental Evaluation

Conference: WSA 2018 - 22nd International ITG Workshop on Smart Antennas
03/14/2018 - 03/16/2018 at Bochum, Deutschland

Proceedings: ITG-Fb. 276: WSA 2018

Pages: 6Language: englishTyp: PDF

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Heimann, Karsten; Tiemann, Janis; Boecker, Stefan; Wietfeld, Christian (Communication Networks Institute, TU Dortmund University, 44227 Dortmund, Germany)

Beamforming and pencil beam antennas are expected to become a major component of 5G mmWave networks. While spatial separation and high gains are anticipated benefits, the suitability of those new antenna types in highly dynamic scenarios, such as the use on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), requires appropriate real–time steering capabilities and needs to be proven in practice. In this paper we present results of lab experiments leveraging a wireless robotics testbed implementing a mmWave link at 28 GHz between a fixed base station equipped with a pencil beam antenna and an UAV. The setup allows the investigation of the beam tracking performance in terms of signal strength, quality and throughput for different antenna tapers, tracking algorithms and mobility patterns. This — to the best of our knowledge — first experiment applying mmWave communications at 28 GHz for air–to–ground communications confirms the potential and feasibility of pencil beam antennas for UAV communications. In case the antennas are aligned within a given error margin, a stable air–to–ground connection was observed during the flight experiments.