Enabling Smart Reflection in Integrated Air-Ground Wireless Network: IRS Meets UAV

Changsheng You, Zhenyu Kang, Yong Zeng, Rui Zhang

Intelligent reflecting surface (IRS) and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) have emerged as two promising technologies to boost the performance of wireless communication networks, by proactively altering the wireless communication channels via smart signal reflection and maneuver control, respectively. However, they face different limitations in practice, which restrain their future applications. In this article, we propose new methods to jointly apply IRS and UAV in integrated air-ground wireless networks by exploiting their complementary advantages. Specifically, terrestrial IRS is used to enhance the UAV-ground communication performance, while UAV-mounted IRS is employed to assist in the terrestrial communication. We present their promising application scenarios, new communication design issues as well as potential solutions. In particular, we show that it is practically beneficial to deploy both the terrestrial and aerial IRSs in future wireless networks to reap the benefits of smart reflections in three-dimensional (3D) space.

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