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Funded PhD Opportunity

Low-altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicles based communication systems

Subject: Engineering


Low-altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, based communication systems are expected to provide wireless communication services (e.g. flying base stations or a relays) in future wireless networks. They are expected to provide communication services in unexpected (e.g. emergency) or on-demand (e.g. sports events) situations. They will be part of a multi-tier network architecture where they will be able to connect users on the ground and have backhaul wireless links to High-altitude UAVs, cellular networks (e.g. XG and upcoming 5G), satellites and their combinations.

In order to develop a reliable low-altitude UAV based communication system, it is important to understand the radio propagation channel among users on the ground and the UAV, commonly known as air-to-ground radio propagation channel. It is expected that along with or without line-of-sight (LOS) component, the radio propagation channel will consist of considerable multipath components due to the complex environments (e.g. urban or suburban).

Currently, very limited measurements are available to understand the low-altitude air-to-ground radio propagation channel. The better understating of the air-to-ground radio propagation channel will help the research communities and manufactures to develop reliable communication systems.

The successful applicant will be expected to investigate the low-altitude air-to-ground radio propagation channel. This will be an experimental based work where data will be collected in real environments (e.g. urban) and process to quantify the radio propagation channel parameters. Following is the breakdown of this Ph.D.:

1.Calibration of the wideband channel sounding equipment The channel sounding equipment will be tested to quantify its performance (e.g. sensitivity and dynamic range).

2.Data collection and processing Data will be collected with the wideband channel sounding equipment (attached with a drone) to record the radio propagation channel in different environments (e.g. urban) and processed to understand the radio propagation channel parameters.

The candidate will ideally have good knowledge of channel sounder, radio propagation channel, signal processing and programming (e.g. C/C++ and MATLAB).

Essential criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £14,777 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 14,777 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 18 February 2019

Interview Date
March 2019


Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses

Contact supervisor

Dr Adnan Ahmad Cheema

Other supervisors


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