Ericsson and Bharti Airtel (Airtel) recently showcased the power of 5G network by demonstrating Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations at the India Mobile Congress.
The use cases leveraged the high bandwidth and the ultra-low latency of the 5G network to showcase mission-critical applications such as disaster response & monitoring, emergency delivery services and remote surveillance made possible through drones.
Randeep Sekhon, CTO – Bharti Airtel states “5G networks have the potential to truly transform lives. As part of our endeavor to leverage technology that truly adds value to our lives and the society, we are pleased to demonstrate this powerful use case. Large scale deployment of 5G networks over the coming years will open unlimited avenues for innovating use cases that can solve complex problems.”
Nunzio Mirtillo, Head of South East Asia, Oceania and India at Ericsson said, “Our association with Bharti Airtel for the 5G based drone operations is one of the early use cases on 5G that we have co-developed in India. 5G connectivity enables control and operation of drone beyond visual line of sight enabling applications like disaster management and remote surveillance amongst others. At Ericsson, we are working closely with telecom operators across the world and in India to develop 5G use cases that are relevant for the specific needs of the market. “
The BVLOS drone operations leverages network slicing enabled by the 5G network wherein different network slices can be allocated depending upon different use case for guaranteed and uninterrupted quality of serve (QOS). Network slices can be defined in the network and can be dynamically deployed in case of congestion to have seamless user experience for different use cases. This enables multigigabit speeds and reduced end to end latency. Developed with technical assistance from Idea Forge, the demonstration showcased drones being used for mission-critical applications since the 5G network enables greater precision in maneuvering the drones and live streaming of high resolution(4k/8k) video. The 5G infrastructure deployed by Ericsson at Airtel’s Telecom Center of Excellence in collaboration with IIT Delhi was utilized to provide 5G airwaves for demonstration of the use case.
The application of the demonstration includes advanced disaster recovery services using drones, such as delivery of equipment, medicine, food, water and blood or the rapid deployment of a temporary cellular network using drones to enable vital communications.
Mission Critical Logistics and Supplies
The demonstration showcased a remotely controlled drone delivered supplies to a pre-set location. The drone received instructions over an ultra-high-speed, low latency 5G connection. It then operated autonomously, managed by a software control system, and is guided by markers on the ground to the supply location.
The demonstration showcased a drone providing high quality video surveillance and real-time streaming to the command center to assess the scene and act accordingly.
The high bandwidth provided by the 5G network is critical to simultaneously keep the drone flying safely and stream video. In such operations where atmospheric conditions could change quickly, the low latency connection enables the drone to make the necessary flight adjustments in real time.