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In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) communication technology has played an important role in both military and civilian applications. However, with the rapid development of military equipment, the execution efficiency of single UAVs is often limited, for which complex combat missions cannot be completed well. Therefore, UAV swarm has become an important research trend in the field of UAVs. In this paper, we consider the problem of channel estimation and self-positioning for the UAV swarm, where multiple small UAVs are displaced by arbitrarily unknown displacements due to the dynamic moving. To explore the physical characteristics of UAV swarm, the parameters of the channel are decomposed into the direction of arrival (DOA) information, the relative position information, and the channel gain information. Utilizing the rank reduction (RARE) estimator, DOAs of the different target users can be estimated efficiently, regardless of the position of the UAVs. After obtaining the DOA information, we estimate the channel gain information using small amount of training resources, which significantly reduces the training overhead and the feedback cost. Moreover, the unknown displacements among UAVs can be self-recovered from the mixed integer nonlinear programming (MINLP). To reduce the computational complexity, we develop both the sphere decoding (SD) and the least square (LS) based methods. The deterministic Cramér-Rao bound (CRB) of the self-positioning estimation is derived in closed-form. Finally, numerical examples are provided to corroborate the proposed studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8788630
Pages (from-to)7994-8007
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Communications
Issue number11
Early online date5 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • channel estimation
  • DOA estimation
  • self-positioning
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) swarm


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