This project will create a city-scale platform for advanced wireless research to be deployed over the period 2019 - 2024 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The platform, called AERPAW: Aerial Experimentation and Research Platform for Advanced Wireless, will focus on new use cases for advanced wireless technologies that are emerging in the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) space. While most UAS operations presently require visual line-of-sight (VLOS) between a pilot and the drone, cellular networks and advanced wireless technologies will enable beyond-VLOS and autonomous UAS operations, unleashing three-dimensional mobility for UAS. In this project, a world-leading team of researchers will create a national center of excellence to provide fundamental knowledge and a vital national testbed focused on this area.

AERPAW will be a one-of-its-kind aerial wireless experimentation platform and a proving ground and technological enabler for emerging innovations, including package delivery platforms and urban air mobility. It will accelerate development, verification, and testing of transformative advances and breakthroughs in telecommunications, transportation, infrastructure monitoring, agriculture, and public safety, among others. AERPAW will bring new business use cases enabled by UAS and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and will become a long-term national asset for decades to come. The data collected from AERPAW will be an invaluable resource for educators, and graduate/undergraduate students across the nation. Summer workshops, short-term and long-term student design challenges, as well as remote laboratories will spearhead new approaches to engage and educate students at all levels as well as the local and national communities.

The project team is led by researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) along with researchers participating from Mississippi State University and Wireless Research Center of North Carolina. With oversight from the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) Project Office, this team will design, deploy, operate, and sustain AERPAW. AERPAW will have two major goals: 1) to accelerate the integration of UAS into the national air-space; and 2) to enable new advanced wireless features for UAS platforms, including flying base stations for hot spot wireless connectivity. The team will design, deploy, and operate a revolutionary UAS experimentation platform to support advanced research on 5G wireless systems and beyond, in addition to supporting experiments on mobility-as-a-service. AERPAW will provide accessible ground and aerial wireless nodes for users, the possibility for users to bring their own nodes or network components, automated experiment specification/execution, as well as data provisioning/management. Information on the access to this PAWR platform is available on

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS)
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Deepankar Medhi
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Northeastern University
United States
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