Recovery of Incapacitated Commercial Delivery Drones Using LPWAN Technology

Philip A. Catherwood, Michael Little, Dewar Finlay, James McLaughlin OBE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes for the first time the use of an Internet of Things solution for the accurate recovery of incapacitated commercial and retail delivery drones. Since the use of drones will increase in popularity for a variety of uses, the problem of locating and recovering delivery drones is necessary. Using the emerging LoRaWAN and Sigfox networks (as examples of Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology), we investigate the opportunity to locate and recover delivery drones that have crashed either due to technical issues or outside malign intervention. Location and recovery of a test drone using LoRa technology was trialed over three distinct terrains (urban, suburban, and rural) at five different sites in each terrain. These 15 trials evaluate ease of recovery on arrival at the crash site, accuracy of location coordinates given, and a subsequent analysis of the channel statistics for the LoRa network. The experiment was repeated using the Sigfox network as a comparison. The drone was able to be recovered at 14 of the 15 tests sites for both LoRa and Sigfox; in every case the drone's location was successfully transmitted to the secure server via the LPWAN networks. The paper investigates the reported location accuracy from the drone and also uses RMSE as an accuracy metric. The paper furthermore divulges lessons learned and presents a drone recovery algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8686338
Pages (from-to)6-19
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Magazine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2009-2012 IEEE.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Base stations
  • Companies
  • Drones
  • Global Positioning System
  • Internet of Things
  • Loss measurement
  • Payloads


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