Towards Reliable UAV-Enabled Positioning in Mountainous Environments: System Design and Preliminary Results

Wang Zijie, Liu Rongke, Qirui Liu, Lincong Han, John Thompson, Yun Lin, Weiqing Mu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reliable positioning services are extremely important for users in mountainous environments. However, in such environments, the service reliability of conventional wireless positioning technologies is often disappointing due to frequent nonline-of-sight (NLoS) propagation and poor geometry of available
anchor nodes. Hence, we propose a unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-enabled positioning system that utilizes UAV’s mobility to overcome the above challenges. In this article, we first analyze and model the major causes of service failures in the proposed system. In particular, a geometry-based NLoS probability model
is established based on the digital elevation models (DEM) of realistic terrain for reliability analysis. Subsequently, we propose a reliability prediction method and derive the corresponding metric to evaluate the system’s ability to provide reliable positioning services. Moreover, we also develop a voting-based method for the further enhancement of service reliability. Monte-Carlo simulations show that in mountainous environments, the proposed reliability prediction method could achieve a prediction accuracy that is at least 36.8% higher than that of the existing
technique. In addition, in the experiments conducted in two typical valley scenarios, the proposed reliability enhancement method improves the service reliability of the proposed system by 23% and 29%, respectively. These numerical results demonstrate the strong potential of the proposed system and methods for
reliable positioning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
JournalIEEE Transactions on Reliability
Early online date2 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jul 2021


  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
  • UAV-enabled positioning
  • Reliability prediction
  • reliability enhancement
  • mountainous environments


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