Graduate assignment: Optimisation of Beamforming and Positioning for Aerial (Drone) Base Stations


Den Haag

Education type


Internship and graduation project

Hours a week

Fulltime – 40


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What will be your role?

An aerial base station (ABS) is a flying base station (e.g. carried by a drone) which can be used to provide wireless connectivity from the sky and which itself is wirelessly connected to a donor (regular) base station. An ABS may be deployed flexibly and on demand, e.g. in emergency scenarios, in areas where the available network infrastructure is not able to provide sufficient coverage and performance (data rate, latency, reliability, etc.). For example, in (future) ambulance services, high-quality video images made by the paramedic on scene need to be streamed to a remote specialist for more effective assessment of the patient situation, e.g. to assess whether the patient should be brought to the hospital, or to advise on some immediate medical treatment by the paramedic. In many cases, e.g. in remote rural areas or due to building blockage, a mobile network may not able to provide sufficient uplink throughput required for the delivery of such video streaming. The deployment of an ABS nearby the scene is seen as an efficient candidate solution to this challenge.

When the ABS arrives on the scene, it may immediately start to provide service, while further optimising its beamforming configuration and physical 3D position to achieve the best overall performance and/or energy efficiency. This involves performance optimisation of both the access uplink (from the devices to the ABS) and the backhaul link (from the ABS to the donor base station). With regard to energy efficiency, not only the energy usage of the ABS for wireless transmission is of relevance, but also, and likely even more so, its energy usage for flying. The potential mobility of ambulance may also be taken into account.

The key objectives of the proposed graduation project are:
  • To define deployment scenarios of ABS in ambulance services, where adaptive beamforming and dynamic optimisation of the ABS position are applicable. This includes the specification of ABS (e.g. energy constraints) and network (power profiles, radio propagation) parameters.
  • To propose one or more algorithmic solutions for beamforming and position optimization, which optimise overall energy efficiency of ABS while fulfilling the performance requirements of the ambulance services (e.g. for uplink delivery of video streaming) across both the access and backhaul links.
  • To conduct a simulation-based quantitative assessment of the proposed beamforming and position optimization algorithms. The assessment should include a mutual comparison and a benchmark against key state-of-the-art algorithms, as well as a sensitivity analysis w.r.t. key scenario aspects, in order to demonstrate attainable gains and identify the best candidate solution. This requires the specification of suitable and realistic scenarios in terms of system, propagation and traffic aspects and the development and application of a system-level simulator.

How do you want to contribute to tomorrow's world? How big can your impact be? Come and work at TNO and envision it.

What we expect from you

  • You are a graduate student pursuing a Master's degree, preferably in the direction of Electrical Engineering or Computer Science.
  • You have affinity with / interest in mobile networks, computer simulations and programming experience.
  • You have an enterprising, flexible and cooperative nature.
  • You are also communicative, creative and innovative.
  • Duration of the graduation project is about nine months.

What you’ll get in return

You want to work on the precursor of your career; a work placement gives you an opportunity to take a good look at your prospective future employer. TNO goes a step further. It’s not just looking that interests us; you and your knowledge are essential to our innovation. That’s why we attach a great deal of value to your personal and professional development. You will, of course, be properly supervised during your work placement and be given the scope for you to get the best out of yourself. Naturally, we provide suitable work placement compensation.

TNO as an employer

At TNO, we innovate for a healthier, safer and more sustainable life. And for a strong economy. Since 1932, we have been making knowledge and technology available for the common good. We find each other in wonder and ingenuity. We are driven to push boundaries. There is all the space and support for your talent and ambition. You work with people who will challenge you: who inspire you and want to learn from you. Our state-of-the-art facilities are there to realize your vision. What you do at TNO matters: impact makes the difference. Because with every innovation you contribute to tomorrow’s world. Read more about TNO as an employer.

The selection process

After the first CV selection, the application process will be conducted by the concerning department. TNO will provide a suitable internship agreement. If you have any questions about this vacancy, you can contact the contact person mentioned below.

Due to Covid-19 and the consequent uncertainties and restrictions, students who are not residing in the Netherlands may currently not be able to start an internship or graduation project at TNO.

Has this job opening sparked your interest?

Then we’d like to hear from you! Please contact us for more information about the job or the selection process. To apply, please upload your CV and covering letter using the ‘apply now’ button.

Contact: Haibin Zhang
Phone number: +31 (0)88-86 67373

Note that applications via email and third party applications are not taken into consideration.


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