October 17, 2016 — Verizon used drones to help with cell site inspections from the air in North Carolina and South Carolina to survey areas impacted by severe flooding from Hurricane Matthew. The quadcopter used for the inspections was an unmanned aerial system (UAS) operated by Measure.
“In the wake of Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina, the Measure team used groundbreaking technology and professional flight operations to assist Verizon Wireless with rapid network restoration,” said Chris Moccia, EVP of Infrastructure, Measure. “Results achieved demonstrate the use of drones for mission critical cell site evaluations under challenging circumstances. Great teamwork!”
The UAS is able to both record and livestream HD video and high-resolution photographs of a cell site. The first flight to a site surrounded by water near Elm City, North Carolina, and the Tar River Reservoir showed engineers that the base station equipment – which was elevated on stilts – was not underwater and had not suffered visible damage.
After determining the site was safe to access, Verizon’s Network team secured an air boat and refueled the generator, bringing the site back into service within hours.
October 4, 2016 —
Real-time cell tower surveys by a drone using artificial intelligence (AI) were demonstrated at GPU Technology Conference last week in Amsterdam by a Dutch drone OEM, Aerialtronics; deep-learning neural network software firm, Neurala; GPU-accelerated computing pioneer, NVIDIA,
In 2007, NVIDIA developed GPU-accelerated computing, combining a graphics processing unit (GPU) together with a CPU to accelerate deep learning, analytics, and engineering applications. NVIDIA is sponsoring six GPU Technology Conferences including one in Washington, DC, Oct. 26-27.
The “intelligent drone” identifies objects and their condition in flight, which increases the efficiency and accuracy of asset documentation, lowering costs of frequent inspections.
Aerialtronics and Neurala collaborated to make the demonstration on the Altura Zenith UAS, which incorporates the NVIDIA Jetson TX1 module. The resulting system can visually inspect a cell tower and recognize the equipment mounted on the mast, which is the first step for automating the documentation of assets, assessing the mechanical functionality and evaluating the condition of the cell tower to identify rust and other defects.
“Not only can we do clever things with the vision and thermal data, we can connect the flight computer so the drone is fully aware of it surroundings,” said Robin van Putte, chief of product strategy at Aerialtronics. “We don’t want to end our inspection mission with a SD card in our hand and invest a lot of time in data offload and post-processing.
“Instead we want to be able to immediately verify the results and take quick decisions. Having artificial intelligence technology onboard accelerates our roadmap to full automation of the drone workflow,” he added.
EDITORS’ NOTE: This is part two of a four-part series where we deep dive the technology display at the CTIA Super Mobility 2016.
5G had a significant presence during CTIA Super Mobility 2016, considering it is still early in the game. The 5G launch pad really showed off what is beginning to happen in the 5G arena.
Ericsson demonstrated a 5G prototype radio system that showed data rates in excess of 100 Gbps. Intel’s 5G mobile platform integrated components, including an application processor, baseband processor, and other components for devices targeted at frequencies up to 40 GHz. They also showed off their next-generation RFIC, which is spec’d with an integrated 28 GHz antenna system that is capable of both beam steering and beam forming.
Qualcomm had its mobile broadband ecosystem up for demonstration. It presented possible applications in remotely piloted vehicles (RPV); a 5G mmWave system that, like Intel, offers beam forming, a beam-tracking platform; and a 5G NR system that offers multi-Gb data rates with ultra-low latency. They also had a narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) display, which explained emerging technologies such as enhancements for machine-type communications (eMTC) and how they work.
There was also EC-GSM-IoT, which in combination with power saving mode (PSM) and extended discontinuous reception (e-DRX), makes GSM/EDGE markets capable of supporting Internet of Anything (IoX) platforms.
There was a smattering of other 5G offerings from companies such as ZTE, which showed off a high-frequency prototype system that supports adaptive beam tracking in non-line of sight (NLOS) systems capable of offering up to a 500 MHz bandwidth with a peak throughput of 10 Gbps.
Remotely piloted vehicles, i.e. drones, had a notable, although not particularly large presence – and the major focus was consumer. There was some showing of drones in surveillance scattered about, but it was mostly just showing how drones fly. But there was this amazing drone airfield where drone vendors were able to show off drone technology. While there isn’t much new in drones, except for the incremental improvements in efficiency, optics and power, the airfield was the wow factor.
Check back in on Thursday when Ernest will spotlight the smart technologies exhibited at CTIA Super Mobile 2016.
September 13, 2016 –
Qualcomm and AT&T will test drones on commercial LTE networks in an effort to analyze how they can operate safely and more securely, it was announced during last week’s CTIA Super Mobility Week.
The team will look at coverage, signal, strength and mobility across network cells as well as how the drones function in flight. The goal of the trials and ongoing research is to help enable future drone operations, such as Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), when regulations allow. The ability permit to fly beyond an operator’s visual range could enable successful delivery, remote inspection and exploration. Wireless technology can bring many advantages to drones such as ubiquitous coverage, high-speed mobile support, security, reliability and quality of service.
“Not only do we aim to analyze wide-scalable LTE optimization for safe, legal commercial small unmanned aircraft systems (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.” said Matt Grob, executive vice president and chief technology officer, Qualcomm Technologies.
Back in February, AT&T and Intel agreed to do many of the same tests that AT&T will be executing with Qualcomm. The AT&T Internet of Things team and the AT&T Foundry innovation center in Palo Alto, Calif., will be working with Intel to evaluate performance of the LTE network at higher altitudes to see how it affects video streaming, transmitting telematics and flight information.
“Connecting drones over the network will help address many challenges the category faces, including safety and security concerns, real time communications, potential interference with manned aircraft and supporting future capabilities (such as beyond line of sight), as they are approved by the FAA,” the carrier said in a press release.
August 18, 2016 — The world’s first 5G-enabled drone prototype field trial has been field trialed by Ericsson and China Mobile. The drone was flown using operator’s cellular network with 5G-enabled technologies and with handovers across multiple sites.
The potential use cases for this technology include mission-critical applications such as support for emergency services. However, end-to-end low latency needs to be guaranteed by the operator’s network to ensure the safety and reliability of such services.
Ericsson and China Mobile have been collaborating in the China National Key 5G Project since the beginning of 2016, focusing on user-centric 5G network architecture evolution.
“One of the project’s aims is to optimize latency for mission-critical use cases, by dynamically deploying part of a network through distributed cloud close to the radio edge,” said Huang Yuhong, deputy head, China Mobile Research Institute. “The drone trial is therefore an important step toward 5G networks in which part of a network can be distributed and dynamically deployed at the cellular edge in order to reduce end-to-end latency, and to serve a range of 5G use cases at the same time.”