We claim the strong potential of data-centric communications in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), as a suitable paradigm to enhance collaborative operations via efficient information sharing, as well as to build systems supporting flexible mission objectives. In particular, this paper analyzes the primary contributions to data dissemination in UAS that can be given by the Data Distribution Service (DDS) open standard, as a solid and industry-mature data-centric technology. Our study is not restricted to traditional UAS where a set of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) transmit data to the ground station that controls them. Instead, we contemplate flexible UAS deployments with multiple UAV units of different sizes and capacities, which are interconnected to form an aerial communication network, enabling the provision of value-added services over a delimited geographical area. In addition, the paper outlines an approach to address the issues inherent to the utilization of network-level multicast, a baseline technology in DDS, in the considered UAS deployments. We complete our analysis with a practical experience aiming at validating the feasibility and the advantages of using DDS in a multi-UAV deployment scenario. For this purpose, we use a UAS testbed built up by heterogeneous hardware equipment, including a number of interconnected micro aerial vehicles, carrying single board computers as payload, as well as real equipment from a tactical UAS from the Spanish Ministry of Defense.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Network of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) Data-centric communications Data Distribution Service (DDS)