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5G Drones – Eye In The Sky – Helping To Fight Against COVID-19

In the current situation of a global pandemic, staying connected is important but also difficult. Customers, companies, and governments around the world started using drones for things that they had not thought of before. Talking about drones, the impact of 5G technology on advanced drone applications cannot be overstated. 5G is touching all aspects of life and is virtually connecting everyone and everything during these uncertain times.

What is 5G in 2020?

2020 is the year of 5G proliferation. 3GPP, the industry organization that defines cellular specifications, is targeting to complete Release 16 in June 2020, expanding 5G cellular technologies to new industry verticals. 5G NR (New Radio), developed by 3GPP, uses the spectrum more efficiently than the previous generations of wireless. 5G is designed to exploit large frequency ranges like mmWave (millimeter wave). Higher radio frequencies provide faster speed, reduced congestion, and lower latency. Qualcomm® is leading the 5G invention to match extreme requirements and pushing 5G from standardization to commercialization. Qualcomm is also expediting advanced drone technology development by testing drone operations at their FAA-authorized UAS Flight Center.

How 5G will help drone operations?

Delay and failure are not an option in mission-critical drone applications. The challenge in beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations can only be overcome by reliable connection. 5G is a more reliable network with broader bandwidth, which brings a new dimension of high reliability, robust security, ubiquitous coverage, and seamless mobility to wide-scale drone operations. 5G connectivity enables safer and more autonomous drone deployments.

The upcoming 5G NR includes enhanced ultra-reliable, low-latency communication (eURLLC) with packet loss as low as .0001% and latencies below one millisecond. It offers multi-connectivity to create redundant links that ensure reliability. To support mission-critical drone applications, 5G NR includes mechanisms to relay critical data first amongst all other data and services running on the network. Higher frequency bands like mmWave give lightning-fast cellular speeds of up to 7.5 Gbps; it enables 5G to support approx. one million devices per square kilometer. With the help of Ubiquitous 5G, drones will be able to perform precision command-and-control tasks of untethered surveillance, real-time asset tracking, and efficient delivery in a more efficient way.

How drones are helping in the battle against COVID-19?

After an exponential growth in COVID-19 positive cases, many countries across the globe have been on lockdown for more than a month or two, serving stay-home order of governments. Below are different ways, supported by examples, in which drones have helped us:

Public Safety

Police departments and other administrative divisions in different countries started using drones to enforce social distancing as well as surveillance of parks and public spaces without coming into any human contact. Drones are being hovered above the street for everything from fever detection in crowds through infrared thermography to disinfecting public spaces.

MMC, based in a city in southeastern China, has fanned out more than 100 drones for similar purposes. The government drones are now scanning the population to find people, potentially infected with COVID-19, who should not leave their homes for non-essential trips. These flying robots, equipped with loudspeakers, are stopping people from gathering in groups, and are used  to broadcast public information messages.

Security

Numerous companies are forced to cease their operations due to COVID-19. On-site autonomous drones enable them to secure their large facilities containing valuable assets, operational or not, through continuous autonomous inspection, powered by 5G. Self-governing drones are a practical, powerful, and productive solution for continuous maintenance and operations tasks at critical infrastructure sites.

Medicines and other Essential Supplies

5G drones can be of greater help to the homebound to deliver prescription medicines and other essential supplies including food. Wing, Alphabet’s drone-based start-up, became the first drone operator to be formally certified as an air carrier by the FAA.  Wing’s drone can deliver an order, placed through its proprietary app, within just a few minutes. Wing has recently included essential items, like toilet paper, diapers, toothpaste, pasta, milk, bread, baby food, and prescription medicines, to meet the domestic demand of the residents. So far, Wing is winning as a result of corona quarantine purchases.

In a similar way, Ireland-based Manna Aero delivers food directly from restaurants and centralized kitchens to consumer’s homes. Recently being authorized by Irish Aviation Authority, this company, as a pilot, is delivering medicine to the homebound and alleviating the effect of the coronavirus. On the other hand, Matternet, in collaboration with WakeMed and UPS, launched a revolutionary supply chain service to deliver medical samples. This helps in getting results faster by avoiding traffic and reducing accidents as there is no need for courier cars. RWG (Riverwards Group), the premiere urban new construction development company, quickly turned to drones for marketing their developments and will be using them for roof surveys on their new projects. Zipline is also seeking FAA authorization for introducing its own medicine delivery service.

Conclusion

A crisis is an opportunity to embrace challenges we have never faced before. 5G connectivity will provide much-needed ultra-high reliability, incredibly-low latency to drones with strong end-to-end security. When people are homebound, autonomous 5G drones are an ingenious and effective solution to fight against coronavirus as they reduce human-to-human contact. Truly autonomous drones, combined with 5G, will change the game for the industries and make them capable of delivering efficiency and savings even after COVID-19.

Qualcomm® has already designed many flagship 5G solutions based on Snapdragon™ platforms. As a Qualcomm® licensee and Snapdragon™ Technology Partner, eInfochips has an intricate understanding of different platforms and 25 years of end to end product development experience. To know more about eInfochips’ robotics and drone solutions, get in touch with us.

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