Computer Modeling in Engineering & Sciences |

DOI: 10.32604/cmes.2022.020639

ARTICLE

Efficient UAV-Based MEC Using GPU-Based PSO and Voronoi Diagrams

1Department of Information Technology, College of Computing & Information Technology at AlKamil, University of Jeddah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

2Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Computers and Informatics, Suez Canal University, Ismailia, Egypt

*Corresponding Author: Mohamed H. Mousa. Email: mohamed_mousa@ci.suez.edu.eg

Received: 04 December 2021; Accepted: 18 February 2022

Abstract: Mobile-Edge Computing (MEC) displaces cloud services as closely as possible to the end user. This enables the edge servers to execute the offloaded tasks that are requested by the users, which in turn decreases the energy consumption and the turnaround time delay. However, as a result of a hostile environment or in catastrophic zones with no network, it could be difficult to deploy such edge servers. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can be employed in such scenarios. The edge servers mounted on these UAVs assist with task offloading. For the majority of IoT applications, the execution times of tasks are often crucial. Therefore, UAVs tend to have a limited energy supply. This study presents an approach to offload IoT user applications based on the usage of Voronoi diagrams to determine task delays and cluster IoT devices dynamically as a first step. Second, the UAV flies over each cluster to perform the offloading process. In addition, we propose a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)-based parallelization of particle swarm optimization to balance the cluster sizes and identify the shortest path along these clusters while minimizing the UAV flying time and energy consumption. Some evaluation results are given to demonstrate the effectiveness of the presented offloading strategy.

Keywords: Task offloading; mobile-edge computing; unmanned aerial vehicles; Internet of Things; voronoi diagrams; GPU; particle swarm optimization

Table 1 describes the meaning of the common terms abbreviations and acronyms found throughout the paper.

Mobile-Edge Computing (MEC) has been become the most promising framework for meeting Quality of Service (QoS) requests, taking into account the requirements of processing cycles and energy. This is essential for computationally intensive mobile applications and the Internet of Things (IoT) to cope with capability limitations of mobile and IoT devices [1–3]. A cloud-based layer supports an edge network of servers that handles computationally intensive tasks, allowing for a reduction in the required energy and corresponding turnaround time. The close proximity of the edge servers to IoT and mobile devices provides low latency and a high bandwidth for delay-sensitive IoT applications [4 –6]. However, in some locations, the deployment of edge servers may be difficult, if not impossible [7–11]. As a real-life example, monitoring and observing forests and woodlands is a difficult task because such monitoring is time-consuming and requires considerable effort along with suitable resources. Stopping dangerous undertakings that can cause great damage to nature is a major challenge and responsibility of monitoring forestlands. Because forests cover such a wide area, it is difficult for forest managers and workers to take immediate action in cases of problems such as forest fires and illegal tree felling. Communication with ground sensors, aerial surveillance, mapping, aerial photography, and thermal imaging are some approaches in which Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can carry out forest monitoring. Thus, monitoring by UAVs contributes to the conservation of wildlife, biodiversity, and vegetation, the balance of ecology, and other forestry-related issues.

The UAV industry has made significant advances with regard to both technology and cost during the past decade, and many different applications have been demonstrated, such as intelligent transportation, agriculture, and wilderness monitoring [12–15]. In addition, throughout this period, communication technologies have advanced in various ways (e.g., IoT, cloud computing, etc.) [16]. UAVs have been highly successful due to their cost-effective and flexible deployment [17]. These advances in communication technologies have been used to improve the collaborative computation between UAVs and ground devices. In fact, UAV-Assisted Computing (UAC) is regarded as computation services provided to ground devices using UAVs as flying bases [18]. To this end, UAVs can support offloading in MEC architecture in various ways such as:

• UAV-assisted communication: For IoT devices, UAVs allow quick, flexible, and cost-effective network coverage by acting as relays for distant ground base stations [19,20].

• UAV-assisted Computing MEC (UCMEC) architecture: For cloud services, UAVs equipped with edge servers allow for the offloading and processing of ground device tasks.

A unified communication network that integrates a UAV with an MEC network, as well as near line-of-sight wireless communication, are important for meeting the QoS specifications of mobile applications with regard to energy consumption and sensitivity to delay [21,22]. UAVs are constrained by their energy limitations, which lead to delays in their offloading processes. Two challenges must be taken into account in the development of any UAV-assisted computing MEC method:

1. Locally, ground devices are not distributed uniformly. Hence, the offloading and execution of tasks must be partitioned and balanced along a set of clusters in order to achieve high performance of the UCMEC offloading system.

2. Despite the energy limitations, UAVs should collect IoT data from various locations, process offloaded tasks, and report the results back. These paths have to be optimized to satisfy the energy constraints of the UAVs.

This research designs a UCMEC framework to offload tasks with the goal of optimizing the amount of required energy and computational turnaround time for both mobile devices and UAVs. As depicted in Fig. 1, we propose a space partitioning of the offloaded tasks into different regions, with the UAV hovering over each region to process the offloaded tasks. Finally, the UAV trajectory is optimized considering the time and energy limits of the UAV. The contributions according to the proposal are as follows:

• “Voronoi Diagrams” (VDs) are used based on a formal mathematical model of the UCMEC system to partition the IoT wireless devices into set regions, where the offloaded subset of tasks in each region meets the overall time constraint.

• The initial partitioning of the wireless devices is improved using the proposed “Graphics Processing Unit” (GPU)-based Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO).

• The same GPU-based PSO (GPUPSO) steps are used for obtaining a near-optimum path minimizing the UAV trajectory and load balancing tasks in the partitioned regions according to both energy and time constraints.

• PSO has the advantage of being simple to implement and has a good capability for convergence in comparison with many population-based approaches, such as Genetic Algorithms (GAs) [23]. The main disadvantage is that PSO may be attracted to local minima. We overcome this issue by adding an aging factor that guarantees exploration of the global search space.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. The next section presents the related work, followed by a formulation of the optimization model in terms of the time and energy constraints as well as the affecting factors in Section 3. Section 4 explains the proposed optimization framework on the basis of clustering of the ground devices and the use of the GPU-based PSO. Finally, Section 5 presents some experimental results, followed by the conclusions in Section 6.

Edge servers are always privileged by their high bandwidths and low latency. Therefore, the performance of offloaded tasks is enhanced by MEC for restricted systems in terms of energy and time [24,25]. When UAVs are equipped with MEC servers and communicating channels, UAVs contribute to computing services and instant communications. This yields a better energy consumption and rate of transmission for mobile devices. However, the UAV’s energy limitations have an adverse effect on ground mobile equipment with regard to communication and computation [26]. To address these key challenges, a variety of research studies have been conducted to explore different configurations, optimization objectives, and underlying constraints.

In [27], optimum planning of the UAV trajectory, ratio of offloading tasks, and user scheduling were studied together to minimize all users’ delays. In [28], UCMEC was proposed as a novel framework of agent-based task offloading. With the aim of obtaining the optimal offloading plan, the intelligence agent was led to obtain a plan that was as efficient as possible. However, this study did not address UAV trajectory optimization. In [29], the authors demonstrated that partial offloading can be optimized through the optimization of offloading ratios, local computing frequencies, transmission power, and edge server computing frequencies. However, their framework did not consider UAV mobility. In [30], the authors proposed an MEC system involving multi-UAVs and ground IoT nodes to offload computational tasks that they could not handle using their limited capabilities. To balance the computational load of the UAVs, they employed a deep reinforcement learning approach. However, stable MEC clustering with greater computing power does not guarantee generation by this method. In [31], using the Dinkelbath algorithm and “successive convex approximation” (SCA) techniques, the authors solved a nonconvex optimization problem formulated in the UAV scenario. In this system, neither the level of distribution of mobile devices on the ground level nor the timing of tasks that are to be offloaded were considered. As part of resource allocation and joint computation offloading, task assignment to MECs while reducing turnaround time and required energy is an important issue. Reference [32] focused on the number and location of UAVs in the development of algorithms for deploying multi-UAVs in a FANET. Based on whether tasks are offloaded or processed locally, a greedy algorithm was proposed to determine the optimal solution. However, it is important to determine when and how to offload tasks from IoT devices, particularly if the tasks are uncertain in order to improve accuracy while reducing cloud communications costs. Using the UAV computing platform, Chen et al. [33] proposed an intelligent task offloading algorithm (iTOA) that can solve the computationally intensive problem of task processing. The offloading operation is performed using the deep “Monte Carlo Tree Search” algorithm (MCTS), which is the principal algorithm of Alpha Go. To arrive at the optimal decision, MCTS simulates the future trajectory of the unloading decision and optimizes the rewards based on this simulation. To be effective, the proposed offloading strategy requires training data, a prediction model of the channel state, and a period of self-learning. In [34], the UAV served as a supporting unit for helping ground devices offload their tasks to access points for further computations. They employed a greedy algorithm to optimize the required energy based on a suitable selection of UAV paths and allocation of resources. However, only the UAV velocity is taken into account in the optimization process. In [35], the relation between energy consumption and latency is considered for task offloading and for evaluating MEC system performance. Their approach used iterative optimization to determine the path of the UAV. However, this optimization does not take into account how clustered fixed slots should be partitioned or consider time delays. In [36], the UAV energy consumption was minimized by optimizing its trajectory and task scheduling. This will further shorten the operational time if some memory-intensive and computation-intensive tasks are executed on the UAV. In [37], greedy search optimization based on the uplink and downlink communications between UAVs and devices was utilized as a means of offloading and receiving data while ensuring energy-efficient operation of the system. In [38], a new mobile edge system integrating UAVs and IoT devices was developed. By launching a UAV, the system enables the provisioning of services to IoT devices by using wireless communication. Additionally, their approach formulates the problem as a nonconvex optimization problem by optimizing UAV position, resource allocation decisions, and task splitting decisions jointly to minimize the total delay and consumption of energy. However, it does not take task scheduling into account. In summary, the approach based on exhaustive and greedy searches is not suitable for such optimization. In fact, the majority of problems in consideration have many factors that must be optimized, such as the shortest path planning, ground user number and locations, energy consumption, and time delay parameters. Thus, most researchers deployed heuristic settings such as fixed partitions. However, their frameworks are not extensible due to their high complexity. In addition, learning-based approaches [39,40] request a preprocessing training step. Such a preprocessing step makes these approaches inapplicable to probabilistic problems.

Thus, the metaheuristic optimization framework is a suitable candidate for dealing with such stochastic problems. In this study, we employ a combination of a computational geometry algorithm, namely, the VD construction algorithm, and a natural phenomena simulation, namely, PSO, to carry out the required minimization of the time delay and energy consumption of the task offloading problem using UCMEC in a reasonable timeframe.

3 UAV-Based Offloading Framework

Now, we describe the employed time and energy models in this section. Table 2 lists the set of symbols and factors employed in the suggested task offloading model.

Two layers comprise an offloading system based on UAVs. A ground layer consists primarily of IoT and mobile devices that have N fixed-position wireless devices on the ground. Let

For the UAV, an altitude of

Provided that the UAV with device di is in the covered region, i.e., the following condition is satisfied:

While the UAV hovers over a region Rk, device di requests to offload its tasks

In this section, we will describe the communicating model controlling the UAV. Suppose that device di is within cluster Rk. This means that when the UAV is hovering over Rk, di lies in the

where

Let

Based on Eq. (5), the time required to offload all of the tasks within Rk is as follows:

Depending on the decision value,

In this section, we will formulate the time of the computation model based on the computation capacity of the UAV. Let fu be the UAV computational capacity; therefore, the time required to execute task ti is evaluated as follows:

Similar to

Using Eqs. (6) and (8), the overall time required within Rk is evaluated as follows:

In this section, we will describe the required energy to offload the tasks in Rk. In fact, the consumption of energy results from the following:

• the energy required to send the receive tasks’ data,

• the energy required to execute the received tasks, and

• the energy required to the flying operation.

For the transmission and reception of data, let the communication energy factor be denoted by

Let

For the UAV hovering energy, we followed the propulsion energy model of [42]. Let

Using Eqs. (10)–(12), the required energy is given by:

In this section, we present the principal factors of the objective function on which the PSO will be based. In fact, the set of ground devices is arranged into a set of clusters. This set is dynamically constructed based on the following factors: the maximum cluster capacity,

In the same manner, based on Eq. (13), the required energy, E, along all clusters is evaluated as follows:

We formulate the function,

subjected to:

The first constraint,

where

In this section, we describe our proposed optimization approach. First, we propose a partitioning of the set of wireless devices, D, using the VDs with respect to the UAV communication range

VD partitions a two-dimensional plane containing a set of N anchors, called sites, with a set of N Voronoi polygons. Each Voronoi polygon is associated with a unique site (see Fig. 2a) such that any points inside that polygon are closer to the specified site [43,44]. In addition, the vertices of the Voronoi polygon are called Voronoi vertices, and the circles centered at these vertices that pass through the neighboring sites are called Voronoi circles [45] (see Figs. 2b). We note that the site may be shared with more than one Voronoi circle.

Given a region R containing a set of mobile devices D, where

1. All of the associated mobile devices in the region should be in the coverage area,

2. The sum of the transmission time and the computation time of the assigned devices in the region should be less than Tu,

Algorithm 1 summarizes the steps for the initial partitioning of D. The input of the algorithm is the set of mobile devices D. The algorithm starts by constructing the Voronoi diagram of the set of devices, VD(D). Once VD is constructed, we identify all of the Voronoi circles of the diagram. For each device di, we identify the corresponding devices,

Starting with the smallest fitting circle L[i], where i = 0, we identify of all the fitting circles L[j] that share at least one device with L[i]. Now, for each L[j], we test whether the circle can be merged with L[i] without violating the constraint specified in Eq. (19). If the merge is eligible, then L[i] is updated to

In fact, the initial partitioning of the given devices may produce unbalanced partitions. Although these initial partitions are constructed in accordance with the time constraints of the UAV, these partitions may increase the transfer time necessary to achieve all the tasks in each partition. When the UAV is in a specified region, the UAV may cover devices from neighboring partitions as shown in Fig. 3. The existence of these overlapping areas creates the possibility of improving the transfer time of such devices. In Fig. 3, device s can be covered from regions R2 and R3. The question here is which is better, offloading the device s within region R2 or within region R3? We use PSO to answer this question by associating s with the corresponding region, which optimizes the overall time, namely, the offloading time, along the UAV trajectory. In the next section, we describe the proposed implementation of GPU-based PSO that finds the optimized association of shared devices and the optimal UAV path that minimizes the overall time and energy consumption.

4.2 GPU-Based Particle Swarm Optimization

In this section, we illustrate how to implement PSO on a GPU architecture. We start by introducing the classical PSO. Then, we summarize the benefits of the current advances of GPUs [46]. In addition, we show how to use GPU-based PSO in optimizing the wireless device association to improve the clustering of the set of devices D. Finally, we illustrate how to choose the shortest path for the UAV that minimizes the problem stated in Eq. (17).

4.2.1 Particle Swarm Optimization

The classical PSO algorithm is classified as a stochastic global optimization technique. PSO was developed in 1995 by Eberhard and Kennedy based on the social behavior of birds or fish [47]. Fig. 4 depicts the overall process of the classical PSO, in which each particle Pi is provided with the following information:

•

•

• bi: the historical best position of Pi.

The algorithm shares the information of the historical global best position among all particles in the swarm, g. Using the PSO, each particle in the swarm adjusts its velocity,

where

This makes all the particles align their positions in the search space to the local and global best positions in the search space. Fig. 5 shows a graphical illustration of the effect of Eqs. (23) and (24) describe the inertia and cognitive and social behaviors of particle Pi. The choice of a convenient value for

In fact, PSO has been considered one of the most powerful nature-inspired optimization algorithms. However, for high-dimensional space or large swarm optimization problems, PSO requires performance improvements. This is due to successive evaluations of the fitness function as well as the need to update the particle locations. The first intuitive solution for overcoming this performance degradation is to parallelize the steps from (2)–(5); see the blue shaded loop in Fig. 4 [49]. However, it is insufficient to set subjobs in a parallel calculation job by introducing a single thread for each job that includes a time-consuming evaluation task.

Due to the emergence of General Purpose GPUs (GPGPUs) and their rapid arithmetic kernels, performance has dramatically improved in many fields. In fact, a GPU performs computations faster than a CPU. Due to the high transistor density, floating-point operations can be performed much faster with a GPU than with a CPU because it devotes more transistors to data processing than to data caching and flow control. The second benefit of GPUs is their data-parallel capabilities; they are particularly well suited to problem solving in data-parallel computations with a high arithmetic intensity, that is, for problems where there is a high ratio of arithmetic operations to memory operations.

Furthermore, programming on GPUs has been greatly simplified by the existing platforms, particularly by the Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) [50]. For the CUDA programming concept, as shown in Fig. 6, GPUs can be considered a high-performance computing device capable of handling many threads at the same time. Kernels are the heart of CUDA, and a batch of threads is responsible for executing these kernels simultaneously. This batch is organized as a grid consisting of a number of thread blocks. Generally, a block of threads is a collection of threads. This collection collaborates by allowing data sharing using an efficient and dedicated shared memory. In addition, the collection synchronizes their execution to flawlessly optimize their memory hits. A key feature of CUDA is its memory model that is closely related to the mechanism used by the batch of threads. Every thread has its own local memory, registers, and a unique id. Global memory can be accessed by all threads within a grid, while shared memory can only be accessed within a block. For our implementation, we mostly use shared memory and global memory.

In this research, we propose a robust implementation of PSO using CUDA. The GPU-based PSO can enhance optimization performance, increase the swarm population, enlarge the size of the problem, and greatly speed up implementation. This allows users to solve critical time problems or complex optimization problems in a reasonable amount of time.

Based on the initial partitioning described in the previous section, we propose a multiobjective GPUPSO that minimizes:

1. The routing path of the UAV,

2. The energy consumption, and

3. The shared devices’ offloading time.

In fact, the association of shared devices affects the overall time and transmission energy since the offloading time and energy depend on the positions of the UAV and the devices, as described in Eqs. (1), (3), (4), and (10). On the other hand, the path of the UAV affects both the time and energy consumption.

Let

In addition, we define the set of regions

1.

2.

Now, we define the structure of the part concerning the first objective. First, each

The cost consists of the sum of the total time and energy transmission for devices in D′. For the second objective, we define the structure of this part as a set of floating values describing the priority of visiting the partitions Ri by the UAV;

The final structure of particle Pi is the concatenation of

The experiments are performed on an NVIDIA CUDA Maxwell architecture embedded in an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU running at 1.8 and 1.99 GHz and a GeForce MX130 GPU with 4 GB RAM under Windows 10. Here, we present some experimental results that demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach. A set of wireless devices is randomly distributed over the square region of

Fig. 7 shows a graphical illustration of the proposed approach. First, a set of 40 wireless devices is randomly generated, as shown in Fig. 7a. The VDs of these devices are created using the sweep-line algorithm [53,54], as shown in Fig. 7b. For each device, the corresponding Voronoi circles are determined, as shown in Fig. 7c, to apply the merging step. In the merging step, the Voronoi vertices are merged together, as described in Algorithm1 with respect to the UAV covering radius

Moreover, we compare the proposed optimization of our system vs. a GA. In fact, the GA is a metaheuristic optimization approach based on natural reproduction phenomena. The GA simulates the three main Darwinian operators of natural evolution, namely, selection of the fittest, crossover, and mutation operators. The algorithm starts by randomly initializing an initial population and selecting the fittest individuals for reproduction (applying the crossover and mutation) of the next generation offspring. The individual structure is called a chromosome. In our experiments, we use a chromosome structure similar to the proposed particle structure, as described in Section 4.2.3, and apply the classical GA operators. Fig. 8 shows a comparison of the proposed optimization and a GA. The population size is 800 particles (or individuals for GA). Fig. 8 shows that the proposed GPU-based PSO has a higher convergence rate than the GA.

The analysis of the computational time shows that the GPU architecture speeds up calculation, as presented in Table 4. The columns from left to right are the number of wireless devices, the Voronoi construction time, the partitioning time, and the optimization time. The number of iterations and swarm size are set to 1000 and 800, respectively. The timings presented in Table 4 show that the optimization process incurs the main bulk of the computational cost of the proposed approach. In addition, when the number of wireless devices increases, the dimensionality of the problem also increases, and the optimization step is the most strongly affected portion of the proposed approach. However, due to the high performance of the GPU architecture, the performance difference is negligible.

This paper proposed a UCMEC system to improve the performance of offloading tasks from mobile devices with the goal of minimizing the task delay and the energy consumption of the system. The proposed system partitions the ground devices into regions where the UAV can hover over each region to process the offloaded tasks. A VD is used for the partitioning process. The UAV trajectory over the regions is optimized using a GPU-based PSO. The performance of the proposed system was validated by comparison with other algorithms in the literature.

The limitation of the proposed offloading process is that it is valid only for stationary devices. In other words, it does not take into account the dynamic positioning of the ground sensors. In addition, the performance of the PSO in defining the optimal clustering and the shortest path of the UAV is very sensitive to the intrinsic parameters of the PSO, namely, the inertia, cognitive, and social parameters. In fact, this is a general drawback for all metaheuristic approaches. Our future work will consider the mobility of ground devices as well as the adaptive setting of the algorithm parameters.

Funding Statement: This work was funded by the University of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, under Grant No. (UJ-20-102-DR). The authors, therefore, acknowledge the technical and financial support by the University.

Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest to report regarding the present study.

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