January 17, 2017 – Measure, a drone as a service operator, has raised $15 million in Series B financing with LionTree Advisors acting as the financial advisor. Measure and its national network of licensed pilots provide turnkey solutions to acquire, process, and deliver actionable aerial data to enterprise customers.
“Drone services is one of the fastest growing technology segments with many promising immense value to industries such as insurance, manufacturing, logistics, oil and gas, retail, government, and media and communications. Cognizant is excited to partner with Measure to bring our world-class digital capabilities, such as advanced data analytics and software development, to enterprise customers looking to create value from data collected via drones,” said Sean Middleton, President of the Cognizant Accelerator, of which Cognizant Ventures is a division.
Led by Art Pregler, AT&T has launched a national unmanned aerial vehicle program, using drones to perform aerial inspections of its cell towers. The carrier held live drone demonstrations at the SHAPE AT&T Tech Expo Conference, held July 15-16, in San Francisco.
“This week, we reached another milestone by launching the trial phase of our national drone program,” wrote John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president – AT&T Technology and Operations. “We expect our experiences will lay the foundation for new, exciting drone applications.” The drone team brings decades of military, flight control and tech experience to the job, he added.
By using drones, the carrier will be able to conduct cell tower inspections more quickly and safely and access previously inaccessible areas of a tower.
“Connecting drones to our nationwide LTE network lets us capture data and feed it directly to our systems. In turn, this can allow us to make changes to our network in real time,” Donovan wrote. “We anticipate this will allow us to improve our customers’ experience by enhancing our cell sites faster than ever before.”
But drones usage in the future may go well beyond tower inspection. Possible uses include Flying COWs (Cell on Wings) providing LTE coverage at large events or even rapid disaster response. A Flying COW may even be able to provide coverage when a vehicle is unable to drive to a designated area.
In addition, AT&T’s IoT team, led by Chris Penrose, researching how in-flight drones can use the LTE network to send large amounts of data in real-time to benefit insurance, farming and even delivery service companies.
“We’re moving toward the future by pushing the envelope on what’s technologically possible for drones,” Donovan concluded.
In a highly anticipated proceeding, the FAA has released Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule Part 107, which will expand the universe of companies serving the wireless by removing the pilot’s license requirement. Future drone pilots will be certified using an online testing program. Additionally, a visual observer may be used but is not required.
With the new rule, drone companies will no longer have to file for Section 333 exemptions, which were subject to delays at the agency because of high volumes.
This will facilitate new companies offering drone-based services, which is good for the innovation in this space. But as competition drives prices down, carriers will need should make sure that that the company behind the drone packs the engineering and software expertise to provide value.
The new rules allow drones to fly 400 feet horizontally and vertically of a structure. This expands their use to any public safety or broadcast tower, as well as cell antennas mounted on tall buildings.
The weight of unmanned aircraft to less than 55 pounds and their operation to visual line-of-sight (VLOS) rules.
“At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS for those people to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses,” according to a summary of Part 107.
Other operational limitations include:
• Maximum groundspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).
• Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station.
• Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission.
• Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission.
• No person may act as a remote pilot in command or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
• No operations from a moving aircraft.
• No operations from a moving vehicle unless the operation is over a sparsely populated area.
• No careless or reckless operations.
• No carriage of hazardous materials.
August 26, 2015 — I love following what Google is up to. Some of their ideas are just insane, but when you have that kind of money, you can be insane. And every once in a while the behemoth actually comes up with a good idea that doesn’t involve knowing everything about you, what you do and where. But this one I’m not so sure about.
Google is looking at operating drones using LTE frequencies. They have partnered with NASA, under a NASA’s Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), so they can experiment with unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Funny, that Google can partake in a program originally intended for government agencies. It is supposed to be reserved for public organizations like the military, state universities and police or fire departments.
The experiments could last up to six months and involve transmissions on the LTE radio frequencies used by all the major cellphone companies.
NASA’s Ames Research Center recently released an open call to invite government, industry and academic partners to collaborate with NASA to conduct and identify research needs and to accelerate the development of an air-traffic control system for drones. NASA is also investigating the possibility of drone monitoring via cell technology.
Hmmm…I have a bit of a hard time with this. Call me paranoid, but this smells to me like one of those “let’s see what we can contrive to cover up new government plans to snoop on things.” Involved are Google, NASA and the cell phone carrier.