cellular-connected drones

Cellular-connected drones are tested by Verizon

It is hard to believe that one day we might have cellular-connected drones in the market. Moreover, Verizon, a mobile network giant, wants to be part of it. Skyward, which was initially acquired by Verizon in 2017, signed an agreement with the FAA to test drones that have a cellular connection. This level of connectivity will bring opportunities for drone flights. This may include flights beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS).

What to expect from tests of cellular-connected drones by Verizon?

Nowadays, many commercial drones utilize an unlicensed spectrum. Verizon gives input, which can be an interference regarding the testing of cellular-connected drones. This will prove to be tricky for complex drone operations.

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During the three years associated with the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), the two groups can maintain standards for drone operations. This maintenance includes BVLOS flights and flights that occur within the commercial wireless spectrum. Data and other details regarding the tests of cellular-connected drones will then be delivered to the FAA’s BVLOS committee.

The BVLOS committee is still adapting, having just been introduced in the 6th annual FAA Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Symposium. The committee has more than 80 organizations held responsible for giving suggestions to the FAA for performance-based regulatory needs to ensure safe, secure, and timely drone flights.

Nowadays, Verizon is prioritizing the safety and efficiency of drones. They have been interested in cellular-connected drones since October 2016. In that year, they stated that they were willing to sell data plans specified for drones. The rates start at $25 a month for 1 gigabyte of data and $80 for 10 gigabytes.

Final Thoughts

Cellular-connected drones will play a major part in ensuring safe, secure, and timely drone operations in the future. Matt Fanelli, Director of Strategy and Operations at Skyward, stated that he is very happy to have an association with the FAA. They have the confidence that their efforts will enable industry regulations authorizing low-risk BVLOS and one-to-many operations to grow further.

What do you make of the tests conducted by Verizon? Do you feel that the cellular connection within the drones will be a success?

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