Drone Capabilities Heightened By 5G Communications – Of all of the buzz words used in the drone industry in 2019, “automation” was one of the biggest. Along with AI , drone companies touted automation in every aspect of drone use. There are not many drone companies, however, for whom autonomous flight truly means flight without the presence of a human operator – and Percepto is one of them.
Percepto offers a “drone-in-the-box” solution: one designed for heavy weather and industrial environments. The Sparrow can be remotely scheduled to launch from the base, follow a pre-defined flight path, and then return to the base for battery charge and data upload.
It can also be remotely launched on demand as a response to an emergency or anomoly. It’s solution ideal for facility management and the monitoring of critical assets or large industrial sites: Percepto has a significant customer base in verticals that include energy, oil and gas, solar, mining, and more.
Truly automated drones mean no pilot skills required, and no changing the batteries or dealing with the hardware. That, says Dor Abuhasira, co-founder and CEO at Percepto, is a major advantage – and allows many customers to get more value from the product.
“As soon as the company realizes that it isn’t complicated to fly a drone, they start using drones for things that they hadn’t thought of before,” says Abuhasira.
“They use them for roof inspections, monitoring vegetation, anything that they need to get data on… with Percepto, the day after a storm they can already see where the water has pooled and where the damage is while they’re drinking their first cup of coffee.”
Currently, U.S. regulations still require a visual observer for most drone operations – but Abuhasira says that will change, especially as remote operation capabilities become more commonly used in other countries.
“One of the most exciting things about the drone-in-the-box offering is that is really happening right now – it’s being utilized outside of the U.S. every day, and there are many regulatory breakthroughs on the way in the U.S.,” he comments.
In addition to automation, 5G “is set to be one of the biggest overarching trends of 2020, as next generation mobile networks are rolled out around the world,” says Percepto. “Their impact on the adoption and application of autonomous drone technology (as well as other autonomous vehicles) cannot be overstated.”
5G has dramatically improved speeds, even compared to the fastest 4G: Verizon suggests potential peak data rates of 10 gigabits per second across its 5G Ultra Wideband network.
“There are so many aspects [of drone applications] that 5G networks can help with,” says Abuhasira. “In the first place, whenever you locate a drone, part of the problem is connectivity.
5G is a more reliable network with much broader bandwidth. Today, when you stream video from a drone you are limited by the bandwidth – the higher bandwidth that you have, the higher quality data that you can get.”
In practical terms, that hits the bottom line for customers. Higher quality data means that while today you may need to fly at 50 feet to get the required resolution, over 5G you may be able to achieve the same resolution at 200 feet – which means you can cover more ground, faster.
Also, Abuhasira points out, 5G could have a big impact on unmanned traffic management (UTM) – and the ability for regulators to track and identify drones easily will hasten drone integration and wider adoption.
Truly autonomous flight combined with 5G changes the game for industry. Removing a human operator from the process means drastic reductions in risk and cost – and huge gains convenience.
Relatively low-cost, high res data that can be gathered at regularly scheduled intervals or on demand without leaving your desk may tip the scales in favor of adopting drone technology as a must-have tool for heavy industry.