With Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), a swift response to urgent needs like search \& rescue missions or medical deliveries can be realized. Simultaneously, the legislator is establishing so-called geographical zones, which restrict UAV operations to mitigate the air and ground risk to third parties. These geographical zones serve a particular safety interest, but they may also hinder the efficient usage of UAVs on time-critical missions with a range-limiting battery capacity. In this study, we address a facility location problem for up to two UAV hangars with a robust optimization model considering demand hotspots, geographical zones as restricted areas, a standard mission to satisfy battery capacity constraints, and the impact of wind scenarios. To this end, water rescue missions are used exemplary, for which positive and negative location factors for UAV hangars and areas of increased drowning risk as demand points are derived from open-source georeferenced data. Optimal UAV mission trajectories are computed with an A* algorithm considering five different restriction scenarios. As this pathfinding is very time-consuming, binary occupancy grids and image processing algorithms accelerate the computation by identifying either entirely inaccessible or restriction-free connections beforehand. For the optimal UAV hangar locations, we maximize accessibility while minimizing the service time to the hotspots, resulting in a decrease from the average service time of 570.4 s for all facility candidates to 351.1 s for one and 287.2 s for two optimal UAV hangar locations.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle; Facility Location Problem; Mission Planning; Restricted Airspace; UAS Geographical Zone; Water Search & Rescue; Open Source Georeferenced Data
Computer Science and Mathematics, Mathematics
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.