AT&T, Qualcomm Want Drones To Stay Online Even When They're Beyond Line Of Sight Via LTE Networks
AT&T and Qualcomm are teaming up to test drones on 4G LTE wireless networks, eyeing a time where drones can stay online even when they are outside of the user's line of sight.
The reason for the initial trials is to evaluate how unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs can operate using the carrier's cellular networks, and it's scheduled to get off the ground later this September at the campus of Qualcomm located in San Diego, where the devices will be placed in "real world" environments such as commercial, residential and uninhabited areas and FAA controlled airspace.
If all turns out well, then there would be an effective way to ensure that the drones don't crash into obstacles in the air, but more than that, a stable connection to the internet will allow them to send data and provide their locations to their operators and vice versa in near real-time, to name a few of the many functions.
Of course, that also means they will become more capable of completing deliveries and conducting inspections, something that AT&T has already started to carry out back in July with Flying Cell on Wings or COWs.
"With a focus on both regulatory and commercial needs, LTE connectivity has the potential to deliver optimal flight plans, transmit flight clearances, track drone location and adjust flight routes in near real-time. Solving for the connectivity challenges of complex flight operations is an essential first step to enabling how drones will work in the future," Chris Penrose, senior vice president of the IoT solutions group at AT&T, says.
According to Wired, Qualcomm and AT&T will use consumer UAVs that have been fitted with a variation of the Snapdragon Flight drone development platform and LTE cellular modems of the carrier.
"Our goal is to evaluate how well drone communication persists in different conditions," Matt Walsh, director of business development for unmanned systems of the IoT solutions division at AT&T, tells the news outlet.
On that note, the engineers behind the project are going to find out how the UAVs will respond to commands and receive data via the air traffic control system of the FAA.
Back in April, Qualcomm got authorization to operate in the campus that's categorized as a Class-B airspace, which is the same level of restriction for airports and military bases.
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