AT&T and Intel are teaming up and testing drones on AT&T’s LTE network. The goal is to break the dependence drones have on wifi. AT&T believes using their LTE network can address safety concerns and enable drones to fly beyond the line of sight of the operators in the future. Using the LTE network, operators could theoretically fly great distances and beam back high quality live video.
The two companies are focusing on construction, insurance, agriculture and delivery as having the strongest use case and benefits from the technology. They believe one day pilots in a central office could guide fleets of UAV’s around much wider areas.
Intel is testing the LTE control based network using the Yuneec Typhoon H which is already equipped with Intel’s RealSense cameras which allow it to detect and avoid obstacles in the air. The test prototypes will transmit live footage and telematics through the AT&T LTE network as it flies. They believe in the future that drones could communicate with connected infrastructure as well as other drones in the sky. This would help avoid mid-air collisions as well as avoid inclement weather for example.
Additionally, AT&T as well as Verizon are both working on the successor to 4G LTE which is known as 5G. This has bandwidth 10 to 100 times faster than LTE. This will further enhance the capabilities of such an ecosystem should it prove successful and pass regulatory hurdles. Currently operators must keep their drones within line of sight.
We are sure to hear more about this in the future.