Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2020, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (9): 1534-1552.doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1798-4

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

Iterative construction of low-altitude UAV air route network in urban areas: Case planning and assessment

XU Chenchen1,2(), LIAO Xiaohan1,3,4,*(), YE Huping1, YUE Huanyin1,3,4   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, State Key Laboratory of Re-sources and Environmental Information System, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
    3. Institute of UAV Application Research, Tianjin and CAS, Tianjin 301800, China
    4. The Research Center for UAV Applications and Regulation, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2020-03-04 Accepted:2020-06-02 Online:2020-09-25 Published:2020-11-25
  • Contact: LIAO Xiaohan;
  • About author:Xu Chenchen, PhD Candidate, E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program of China(2017YFB0503005);Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(ZDRW-KT-2020-2);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971359);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41771388);Tianjin Intelligent Manufacturing Project: Technology of Intelligent Networking by Autonomous Control UAVs for Observation and Application(Tianjin-IMP-2)


With the rapid increase of Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV) numbers, the contradiction between extensive flight demands and limited low-altitude airspace resources has become increasingly prominent. To ensure the safety and efficiency of low-altitude UAV operations, the low-altitude UAV public air route creatively proposed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and supported by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has been gradually recognized. However, present planning research on UAV low-altitude air route is not enough to explore how to use the ground transportation infrastructure, how to closely combine the surface pattern characteristics, and how to form the mechanism of “network”. Based on the solution proposed in the early stage and related researches, this paper further deepens the exploration of the low-altitude public air route network and the implementation of key technologies and steps with an actual case study in Tianjin, China. Firstly, a path-planning environment consisting of favorable spaces, obstacle spaces, and mobile communication spaces for UAV flights was pre-constructed. Subsequently, air routes were planned by using the conflict detection and path re-planning algorithm. Our study also assessed the network by computing the population exposure risk index (PERI) and found that the index value was greatly reduced after the construction of the network, indicating that the network can effectively reduce the operational risk. In this study, a low-altitude UAV air route network in an actual region was constructed using multidisciplinary approaches such as remote sensing, geographic information, aviation, and transportation; it indirectly verified the rationality of the outcomes. This can provide practical solutions to low-altitude traffic problems in urban areas.

Key words: UAV air route network, urban area, iterative construction, remote sensing, geographic information