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With 5G connectivity: Drones ready to take off for wider horizons

With 5G connectivity: Drones ready to take off for wider horizons

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Over the last few years, drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are emerging as a disruptive technology, which slowly but steadily finds its way into several aspects of human life.

Initially seen as a technology more suited for military use, drones have been proving their utilities in several areas, including disaster response, search and rescue, law enforcement, crop monitoring, oil and gas discovery, home delivery, and recently as air taxis. But what is critical for successful UAV services is a rock-solid network connectivity.

The superior connectivity offered by 4G and 5G allows low-altitude aerial vehicles like drones to execute complex tasks like traveling for greater distances and uploading high-definition videos. These functionalities ensure more effective and reliable performance making drones suitable for business and mission-critical use cases.

“Several innovative use-cases of drones are emerging, especially for smart cities and critical communications applications. Ubiquitous high-speed connectivity is a key critical element in unlocking the true potential of drones. Existing commercial cellular networks are designed for terrestrial and human use. However, augmenting these networks with 5G critical communication solutions can and will provide the seamless connectivity required for drones and Nokia has the required technology and expertise to make it happen,” said Shady Makhlouf, Government and Cities Leader, Nokia Middle East and Africa.

The technology, once handicapped by connectivity issues limiting the range, radius and altitude, in which UAVs can effectively carry out tasks, has largely surmounted these limitations with the advent of broadband technology.

Even so, the rapid adoption of 5G technology opens newer horizons and unlocks immense use-case possibilities for drones in the future. With superior connectivity, drones are expected to execute complex missions autonomously, stream and upload large data and high-definition video to the cloud and travel far greater distances, including beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

Prasanth Ananth, Research Technical Leader in the Enterprise and Industrial Automation Lab, Nokia Bell Labs, said: “While with 4G connectivity, drones can roam beyond a finite radius by handovers between cells. With 5G connectivity, drones can take advantage of increased bandwidth and lower latency. This enables higher bandwidth drone applications such as live video and allows us to offload computations to the cloud due to the low latency, enabling the cloud to function as a central orchestrator for a fleet of drones. All this leads to an era of networked multi-drone fleets.”

According to Nokia, 5G will enhance UAVs’ capabilities in collecting and transmitting data at a very high speed, real time streaming of high-definition pictures and videos, real time remote monitoring and control and the use of AI.

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