Every cooperation between mobile carrier and manufacturer of communication chips is very beneficial for both sites. This is good information that AT&T and Qualcomm will be testing drones piloted via commercial 4G LTE network. The same approach will be tested also using upcoming next generation 5G mobile networks. The trials are going to be started still in September at Qualcomm’s campus located in San Diego.
Nowadays it is not allowed to fly drones beyond an operator’s line of sight. It means, that person who controls the drone has to see it all the time. However, Qualcomm and AT&T want to check if it is possible to control drones remotely. In this case it would be possible to use drones for delivering of packages and remote inspections and explorations. This kind of applications require high reliable and reliable wireless connection.
AT&T and Qualcomm think that 4G LTE and upcoming 5G networks are perfect for drone controlling.
Currently, it is possible to upload flight plans to drone and track their location using LTE network. A pilot would be also able to adjust flight routers almost in the real-time. 4G LTE networks provide very low latency and allow operator to define communication link with guaranteed QoS (Quality of Service). Of course, flight control of several drones is very complex task. And it is challenging problem from several points of views. However, before logistic solution and real life use cases will be proposed, Qualcomm and AT&T want to face connectivity challenges first.
Qualcomm will use already developed software and chip platform.
The Snapdragon Flight is a software and chip development platform which can be successfully used for drone control and navigation. It is already in use in some commercial drones which are already available on the market. AT&T also is not an amateur in this area. In the past they was cooperating with Intel on drone research. They would like to use drones to inspect their base stations. AT&T has already 65 000 communication towers spread throughout the country and in case of any failure they have to send technicals on site. Also, they have to perform technical review on every site periodically. Therefore, it would be much cheaper to perform these tasks using drones and send technicals only when it is necessary.