Still working on a name for this series. I'd rather if "outernet" remained a word that referred to touching grass and talking to your friends, and altnet sounds like altcoin (ew).
As we've established, the internet is a network of networks. These posts are meant to serve as a resource list of accessing the internet (or just communicating in general) outside of the ISP network, which may have to comply with government regulation such as censorship and ID verification requirements. You can read previous posts Sneakernet and Avian Carriers
For starters, while sneakernet and pigeon carriers are systems that can work right now in places like Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya, drones are much more expensive. They're going to apply more aptly in China, Russia or South Korea. Places where there might be a need for alternative communication networks, but with a population that can afford this method.
Lets get some basics out of the way. I don't expect a dronenet to deliver information directly to people's windows, although they could probably when drone delivery networks are normalized.
You'll see what I think works best for the endpoint in a future post. What I expect the best usecase for dronenets to be applied, is city to city communication (or town to town), but not within the same city or the same town. Its going to save money on gasoline expenditure, its more mobile, so if your center of operations is discovered you can relocate (whereas pigeons are trained to go to a specific location) and just overall may be preferred over other methods.
As you can see, you can get an unmanned arial vehicle going for 100 miles by using solar panels. This does mean operating during the day when your illegal drone is likely to be spotted. By the way, operating without direct line of sight of your drone is illegal in the US and I can't imagine its more legal in a country where unapproved communication is banned. What laws can be followed should be followed (if for no other reason than as to not bring unwanted attention). So again, we only want to do this if we have to do this because we have no other options. If you're having trouble imagining when or where this might be the case, March 21, 2019 Russia want(ed) to cut itself off from the global internet
So, if solar panels are not an option because we only want to fly at night to minimize how detectable our transmission is, we can at least get a build that can fly for an hour
Radios are not an option for this. For one thing, if a wireless controller where an acceptable solution, then communicating over radio might be preferred. Networking the drone via the cellular network is a very risky option. It will detail the location and flight path of your drone up until it switches to the other country's network (assuming a cross border mission). GPS might be okay, but ultimately, that is another transmission method that could result in the discovery of the drone. The method I would propose to be used is called Odometry
Odometry is the use of data from motion sensors to estimate change in position over time. It is used in robotics by some legged or wheeled robots to estimate their position relative to a starting location.
This is the best video I could find to kind of demonstrate it
Obviously that video goes into unnecessary path finding algorithms and things we don't need. Specifically the kind of motion based odometry we want doesn't involve cameras, but IMUs (inertial measurement units) hack a day article
Here's another example of this system working well (https://www.moasure.com/)
If you want to really nerd out on odometry, heres Super Odometry: IMU-centric LiDAR-Visual-Inertial Estimator for Challenging Environments
Here's a racing drone video using this method to navigate at speeds with more accuracy than GPS, better reaction time than a human operator, and better accuracy than a camera based system
Oh yeah, this is why apps might be able to collect your location data while GPS is turned off by the way. Sorry for ruining that for you.
Anyway anyway, I've made my point, this is a really good method for navigation for your drone.
Motion based navigation for efficient drones flown at night allow between towns, cities, or across border, allow for discreet, relocatable communication infrastructure for peoples who have an absolute need for this communication type.