Networks of micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) equipped with various sensors are increasingly used for civil applications, such as monitoring, surveillance, and disaster management. In this article, we discuss the communication requirements raised by applications in MAV networks. We propose a novel system representation that can be used to specify different application demands. To this end, we extract key functionalities expected in an MAV network. We map these functionalities into building blocks to characterize the expected communication needs. Based on insights from our own and related real-world experiments, we discuss the capabilities of existing communications technologies and their limitations to implement the proposed building blocks. Our findings indicate that while certain requirements of MAV applications are met with available technologies, further research and development is needed to address the scalability, heterogeneity, safety, quality of service, and security aspects of multi- MAV systems.
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