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Aerial IRS with Robotic Anchoring Capabilities: A Novel Way for Adaptive Coverage Enhancement

Xinyuan WuVasilis Friderikos
Nov 2023
It is widely accepted that integrating intelligent reflecting surfaces (IRSs) with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones can assist wireless networks in improving network coverage and end user Quality of Service (QoS). However, the critical constrain of drones is their very limited hovering/flying time. In this paper we propose the concept of robotic aerial IRSs (RA-IRSs), which are in essence drones that in addition to IRS embed an anchoring mechanism that allows them to grasp in an energy neutral manner at tall urban landforms such as lampposts. By doing so, RA-IRSs can completely eliminate the flying/hovering energy consumption and can offer service for multiple hours or even days (something not possible with UAV-mounted IRSs). Using that property we show how RA-IRS can increase network performance by changing their anchoring location to follow the spatio-temporal traffic demand. The proposed methodology, developed through Integer Linear Programming (ILP) formulations offers a significant Signal-to-Noise (SNR) gain in highly heterogeneous regions in terms of traffic demand compared to fixed IRS; hence, addressing urban coverage discrepancies effectively. Numerical simulations validate the superiority of RA-IRSs over fixed terrestrial IRSs in terms of traffic serviceability, sustaining more than 2 times the traffic demand in areas experiencing high heterogeneity, emphasizing their adaptability in improving coverage and QoS in complex urban terrains.
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