After conducting over one thousand test flights, Qualcomm believes that LTE over existing cellular networks is ready to not only track, but to control your drone. There are pros and cons to an always connected drone, but Qualcomm thinks this connectivity will be required for future drone use.
I certainly see the merit to Qualcomm’s research and theory, but let me make one thing absolutely clear: I don’t remember the last time I flew a drone within range of a cell tower!
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A truly exciting aspect to the research being done by Qualcomm is that they are looking at ways to better manage cellular connectivity on the go. This should translate to better tower hand-off and connectivity in future smartphones, a win for all of us.
As a leader already in cellular connectivity, it stands to reason that Qualcomm would explore connected drones. The benefits to being able to connect over a cell tower range from another layer of positioning and navigation tools, extended range over the network instead of just from remote to drone and more.
We do appreciate the commercial implications of a connected drone, particularly for a service like Amazon Prime Air, if it ever gets off the ground. For you and I at home, however, line-of-sight operation means standard RC channels are good enough. More important, however, an RC channel operates without a cell tower, and so do I.
Things to know before you fly
- You must register your drone with the FAA before you fly
- You must affix your drone registration number to your craft
- Coming soon: The FAA will require you to pass a test before you fly your drone
- You must acquire your Part 107 certificate if you are to receive any compensation for your flight
- You must follow all of the FAA’s airspace rules if you are flying outdoors
- Hobby flights have different requirements from commercial flights
- In the eye’s of the FAA, drones are aircraft. Period.
- You need to acquire authorization to fly in controlled airspace
I did fly once within range of a cell tower. Maybe twice. (Update: three times. Just remembered a stop I made in Canada last year…) I know that I am one of the few in North America that do not have cellular connectivity at their home, but I don’t. Understanding that a drone, in Qualcomm’s connected world, would fall back to RC or WiFi connectivity when LTE is not available, I still can’t help but feel this could go terribly wrong.
Thank you Qualcomm for taking drone connectivity to the next level, I imagine a news crew flying in the city will appreciate this, auto uploading my video to Google Photos sounds good too, but please excuse me as I go fly off-the-grid in the forests, mountains and fields of my world.
Please hit the Source link below to visit Qualcomm to see what they’ve actually accomplished – I may be against connected drones a little, but Qualcomm really is up to great things.