Optimal UAV Hitching on Ground Vehicles

by   Lihua Ruan, et al.

Due to its mobility and agility, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has emerged as a promising technology for various tasks, such as sensing, inspection and delivery. However, a typical UAV has limited energy storage and cannot fly a long distance without being recharged. This motivates several existing proposals to use trucks and other ground vehicles to offer riding to help UAVs save energy and expand the operation radius. We present the first theoretical study regarding how UAVs should optimally hitch on ground vehicles, considering vehicles' different travelling patterns and supporting capabilities. For a single UAV, we derive closed-form optimal vehicle selection and hitching strategy. When vehicles only support hitching, a UAV would prefer the vehicle that can carry it closest to its final destination. When vehicles can offer hitching plus charging, the UAV may hitch on a vehicle that carries it farther away from its destination and hitch a longer distance. The UAV may also prefer to hitch on a slower vehicle for the benefit of battery recharging. For multiple UAVs in need of hitching, we develop the max-saving algorithm (MSA) to optimally match UAV-vehicle collaboration. We prove that the MSA globally optimizes the total hitching benefits for the UAVs.


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