Communication and networking of UAV-based systems: Classification and associated architectures

Imad Jawhar, Nader Mohamed, Jameela Al-Jaroodi, Dharma P. Agrawal, Sheng Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

175 Citations (Scopus)


Many advancements have been taking place in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology lately. This is leading towards the design and development of UAVs with various sizes that possess increased on-board processing, memory, storage, and communication capabilities. Consequently, UAVs are increasingly being used in a vast amount of commercial, military, civilian, agricultural, and environmental applications. However, to take full advantages of their services, these UAVs must be able to communicate efficiently with each other using UAV-to-UAV (U2U) communication and with existing networking infrastructures using UAV-to-Infrastructure (U2I) communication. In this paper, we identify the functions, services and requirements of UAV-based communication systems. We also present networking architectures, underlying frameworks, and data traffic requirements in these systems as well as outline the various protocols and technologies that can be used at different UAV communication links and networking layers. In addition, the paper discusses middleware layer services that can be provided in order to provide seamless communication and support heterogeneous network interfaces. Furthermore, we discuss a new important area of research, which involves the use of UAVs in collecting data from wireless sensor networks (WSNs). We discuss and evaluate several approaches that can be used to collect data from different types of WSNs including topologies such as linear sensor networks (LSNs), geometric and clustered WSNs. We outline the benefits of using UAVs for this function, which include significantly decreasing sensor node energy consumption, lower interference, and offers considerably increased flexibility in controlling the density of the deployed nodes since the need for the multihop approach for sensor-to-sink communication is either eliminated or significantly reduced. Consequently, UAVs can provide good connectivity to WSN clusters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-108
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Network and Computer Applications
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Delay-tolerant networks (DTNs)
  • Mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs)
  • Routing
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
  • Wireless sensor networks (WSNs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications


Dive into the research topics of 'Communication and networking of UAV-based systems: Classification and associated architectures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this