Scope & Objectives

Project Details

DroneITS (Drone-aided Platform for Enabling Next Generation Intelligent Transport Systems) is a three years R&D project funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) under the 9th cycle of National Priorities Research Program (NPRP).

Project#: NPRP9-257-1-056
Start Date: Oct. 1st, 2016
Duration: 3 years
Project Team: about-us

Project Summary

Drones (aka Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)) have been used in military for many years now and recently, there has been a drastic increase in the usage of UAVs in other fields such as precision agriculture, security and surveillance, and delivery of goods and services. For instance, Amazon and Wal-mart have been working on a new platform ‎[1] that uses UAVs to deliver shipments to customers over the air. Similarly, China’s largest mailing company has already started its own experiments with a fleet of UAVs that could deliver around 500 parcels every day ‎[2]. The usage of UAVs for daily consumer-oriented services is expanding and becoming a reality.

Such intelligent UAVs (ITS drones) can provide an efficient mean not only to enforce the traffic rules and support the traffic police on ground, but also provide the road users with efficient information on traffic (aka intelligent traffic management).

In DroneITS, the ITS UAVs will be enabled by a Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) interface, which will be part of any modern vehicle within the next few years to provide Vehicle to Vehicle and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2X) communications. Such a technology will allow the ITS UAVs to communicate through a direct wireless link with the vehicles in proximity to better enforce road safety and better support traffic efficiency. For sure, our experience and accomplishments in the field of V2X communications through previous NPRP and other projects will be used as input into this new research work.

To the best of our knowledge, applying DSRC-enabled Indeed, Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and road safety can greatly benefit from the use of drones. If dedicated intelligent UAVs are employed, road safety can be improved drastically to reduce the number of UAVs to enforce road safety and to improve traffic efficiency has never been explored elsewhere, and therefore such a research project will put Qatar under a worldwide spotlight.

Application Examples

Some of the applications that will be enabled in this exciting research project to validate the research outcomes include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Flying Accident Report Agent: One or more UAVs fly to the accident’s location to get a detailed report about the accident and send the report in real time and over multi-hop communications to the related authorities.
  • Flying Road-Side Unit: Enabled with DSRC, the ITS UAV will be used as a Flying Road Side Unit (FRSU) that can be used to support V2X communications on the ground.
  • Flying Speed Camera: The ITS UAVs will be equipped with a miniature speed camera to detect over-speeding vehicles.
  • Flying Police Eye: This application enables a direct communication with a DSRC-enabled police car on the ground to provide the police agent with a top view video streaming to better assess traffic violations and violating vehicles and/or road users tracking.
  • Flying Dynamic Traffic Signal: A set of UAVs can be quickly deployed at a congested intersection to organize the traffic.

Main Challenge Areas


Some of these application examples require multiple UAVs to fly together, collaborate, and coordinate to execute a specific mission. When acting in group, the UAVs could overcome their limited energy efficiency if optimal coordination algorithms are used, for example to perfectly share the tasks among the UAVs. In case of Flying Accident Report Agent for example, one UAV could fly to the accident place and issue a report/alarm (e.g., video), then land and transmit its report/alarm over other UAVs in a multi-hop manner, until reaching a UAV or a Road Side Unit (RSU) that would have access to the network (e.g., 4G) and which can forward the report to the relevant entity. Designing such an optimal coordination algorithm is one of the challenges we will be tackling in this project.

Data routing is another research challenge that will be tackled in this project. In traditional wireless ad hoc networks, the routing algorithms have to deal with the mobility pattern of the involved mobile or static nodes. This is not always the case in DroneITS where some nodes (UAVs) can fly and move freely in a 3D space. Such a capability can play an important role in improving the performances of the data routing mechanism if the movement of those flying nodes is considered as one of the routing parameters. In other words, a flying node (or nodes) could reactively move to specific locations to offer better overall connectivity and more stable routing paths. This will also open the door to other research opportunities and new challenges.

Security and privacy are two other challenges we will be addressing in this project. Indeed, this is an important topic which still lacks maturity especially in the field of vehicular communications where the fact that the communications need to be made very quickly makes it difficult to accommodate strong security and privacy mechanisms that are often eager in terms of time processing. Moreover, another pertinent challenge is to preserve the privacy of the sensitive information from the vehicles and drones (e.g., location). Hence, in this project, we will look at the impact of introducing flying nodes within the network and suggest effective privacy-preserving solutions.