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September 7, 2016

AT&T, Qualcomm Partnering on New Drone Project

Tech firm Qualcomm is teaming up with wireless provider AT&T to test drones using commercial 4G LTE networks.

The two firms want to test how drones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), can operate safely and more securely on commercial 4G LTE and future 5G networks. The research will look at coverage, signal, strength and mobility across network cells and how the drones function in flight.

Qualcomm-Logo-website“The trial with a carrier with the reach and technology of AT&T is a significant step in the development of connectivity technologies for small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS), including optimization of LTE networks and advancement of 5G technology for drones,” Qualcomm executive vice-president and chief technology officer Matt Grob said in a press release.

“Not only do we aim to analyze wide-scalable LTE optimization for safe, legal commercial SUAS use cases with beyond line-of-sight connectivity, but the results can help inform positive developments in drone regulations and 5G specifications as they pertain to wide-scale deployment of numerous drone use cases.”

The purpose of the trials is to enable future drone operations, for example, Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS). The goal is to fly well past the operator’s visual range, which could enable deliveries of products, remote inspections and explorations.

“Many of the anticipated benefits of drones, including delivery, inspections and search and rescue will require a highly secure and reliable connection,” AT&T senior vice-president of IoT Solutions Chris Penrose said.

“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.”

Trials will begin later this month at Qualcomm Technologies’ FAA-authorized UAS Flight Center in San Diego. The trials will be based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight drone development platform.


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.