Intelligent unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) are attracting the interest of the networking community as a “tool” to provide new capabilities, to extend the infrastructure of wireless networks, and to make it more flexible. Because of their unique characteristics such as fast deployment, high mobility, processing capabilities, and reduced size, UAVs are an enabling technology for numerous future wireless applications. 

While networks of UAVs can certainly enable a broad range of new applications, how to design simple, elastic, and optimal strategies to control their behavior is still a challenging and open issue. Moreover, controlling the network behavior in a dynamic environment also requires a deep understanding of the interactions between flight control and networking functionalities at all layers of the network protocol stack. As of today, a widely accepted framework for controlling the networking and motion functionalities of large-scale UAV networks is still missing.

Technology Overview

Northeastern University researchers presented a novel idea called SwarmControl, a new software-defined control framework for UAV wireless networks. SwarmControl is designed based on automatic decomposition theories, software-defined radio (SDR) paradigm, and distributed network control principles to provide the Network Operator (NO) with a unified abstraction of the networking and flight control functionalities. With SwarmControl, the NO can define and implement complex network control problems by specifying high-level control directives for the UAV networks on a centralized abstraction. 

SwarmControl (i) constructs a network control problem representation of the directives of the NO; (ii) decomposes it into a set of distributed subproblems; and (iii) automatically generates numerical solution algorithms to be executed at individual UAVs.


  • Distributed drone network control 

  • Motion and networking functionalities unified control framework

  • Self-optimized control for drone networks


  • 5G new radio 

  • IoT (Internet of Things)

  • New drone networking


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Tommaso Melodia
Salvatore D'Oro
Zhangyu Guan
5G Networks
5g NR
Drone Networks
Software-defined Networking