Network-centric systems for military operations in urban terrain: The role of UAVs

Tariq Samad, John S. Bay, Datta Godbole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Military systems are the motivational driver for much of the technology development conducted at applied research laboratories around the world. As the needs of the world's militaries change, so does the focus of this research and development. In this paper, we discuss how the fundamental characteristics of military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) impose requirements and constraints on sensing and reconnaissance. We highlight the importance of a new class of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for network-centric military urban operations. We review some of the UAVs that have been developed in recent years, and that are under development, with particular attention to their endurance, portability, performance, payload, and communication capabilities. Selected university testbeds are also briefly noted. Over the last few years there has been considerable research focused on how these small UAVs, both individually and collectively, can operate autonomously in urban environments and help capture and communicate needed information. We discuss some of this research; specific topics covered include guidance and control for autonomous operation, multi-UAV coordination and route optimization, and ad-hoc networking with UAV nodes. A new concept of operations is described that relies on coordination and control of a heterogeneous suite of small UAVs for surveillance and reconnaissance operations in urban terrain

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4118473
Pages (from-to)92-107
Number of pages16
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received June 1, 2005; revised September 26, 2006. This work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under Contract F33615-01-C-1848 and Contract FA8650-04-C-7142. T. Samad and D. Godbole are with the Honeywell Laboratories, Minneapolis, MN 55418 USA (e-mail:; J. S. Bay is with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Rome, NY 13441–4512 USA (e-mail:


  • Autonomy
  • Coordination and control
  • Route optimization
  • Surveillance and reconnaissance
  • UAVs
  • Urban operations


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