Sunday, 05 July 2020

M1 and Airbus trialling 5G for unmanned aircraft

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Thursday 11 June 20

The pilot programme will explore the limitations of 5G unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), though M1 claims it could be more precise than current global navigation satellite systems technology

M1 and Airbus have announced today that they will be teaming up to perform coastal tests of UAV flight connected to M1’s standalone 5G network. Besides various forms of network optimisation for flight, M1 also noted that it would be trialling a specially built aeronautical 5G modem, designed for drone flight in urban settings…

M1 and Airbus have announced today that they will be teaming up to perform coastal tests of UAV flight connected to M1’s standalone 5G network.

Besides various forms of network optimisation for flight, M1 also noted that it would be trialling a specially built aeronautical 5G modem, designed for drone flight in urban settings.

"This partnership [between M1 and Airbus] serves as a real testbed for shaping the future of urban air mobility technologies by utilising advanced 5G standalone network," said M1 CEO Manjot Singh Mann.

M1 claims that 5G will allow for faster and more accurate communication for these aircraft, and will soon be seen as a core technology for UAV flight. However, as an industry UAV flight on a commercial scale is still in its infancy, with many regulations and tests needed before it can be rolled out on a national scale.

"This collaboration will establish key cellular 5G performance metrics and requirements to enable unmanned aircraft systems to safely integrate and fly in national airspace systems," explained Airbus's head of unmanned traffic management Isabel Del Pozo De Poza.

This is not the first time that M1 has been exploring the potential of drone technology. Indeed, back in 2017 the operator was performing trials using its 4.5G mobile network.

"Interest in drones has already taken off beyond recreational and hobbyist groups, into serious commercial applications,” said M1 CTO Denis Seek at the time. “Mobile technology has the potential to expand and extend the capabilities of drones to enable incredible new applications, such as using drones to perform search and rescue operation at remote or inaccessible sites, aerial infrastructure surveillance, delivery of parcels quickly and efficiently, and even new entertainment channels such as first-person view drone race."

Now, three years late, 5G technology will unlock many of these capabilities for drone flight, many of which are already becoming more frequent in the modern world – Rakuten, for example, is already notably using drones for mast inspections.

M1’s 5G ambitions are surely surging right now; Back in April, a joint venture from M1 and StarHub won one of only two nationwide 5G spectrum licences from the Singaporean regulator, with obligations to achieve 5G coverage over half of the nation by 2022, and the entire nation by 2025.

 

Also in the news:
UK needs Huawei for 5G lead, says Vodafone
Telefonica slashes emissions targets by 20 years in new push to go green
MWC cancellation woes hit GSMA, cuts 20% of staff

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