Smarter Drones Need 5G for AI


By Chad Sweet

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have come a long way since the first low-cost systems emerged in 2007. They have been used for a wide variety of exciting and forward-thinking private and commercial purposes since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued the first commercial drone permit in 2006. 

Drones have gained mass popularity just in the last few years as they’ve become smaller, more affordable and more innovative. When they entered the commercial market, drones were primarily used for taking photos and videos as veritable eyes in the sky, both indoors and out — collecting data near and far on nearly everything from weather patterns to crime scenes. 

As artificial intelligence (A.I.) capabilities and demand for low-altitude drones increase, the need to maintain constant connectivity and efficiency has never been more important. So is the ability for a drone to fly beyond the visual line of sight — going past the pilot’s visual range and flying further distances without human interference. 

The question now is about overall performance. Is a cellular data network a robust enough connectivity option to maintain drone communication beyond the visual line of sight? Or is satellite communication (SATCOM) still the only viable option for autonomous, low-altitude drones that operate at or below 400 feet?

Learn why 5G is not only the present and future of connectivity, but also enables wide-scale drone deployment for mission-critical drone use cases like search and rescue missions, air traffic management, and capturing 360-degree virtual reality footage.

Originally published on February 15, 2020