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Why is 5G important for smart city drones?

Why is 5G important for smart city drones?

Why is 5G important for smart city drones?

 Drones exist in a variety of forms and sizes, and there are several applications for them. Deliveries, infrastructure inspection, security enforcement, emergency response, and 3D city mapping are just a few of the interesting uses for drones in the context of a smart city. The flying robots can execute a wide range of activities faster, more securely, and at a lower cost than humans.

A story by Diana Blass and Jo Kassis.

Diana is Kurrant Insights’ Editor-in-Chief and video director. She is passionate about technologies that have a real impact on people.

Jo is an IoT-focused content strategist. He creates in-depth reports to keep our readers up to date on the newest industry developments.

Drones are already being utilized in some regions, but they are usually piloted by humans and must stay within visual range for safety. This is changing, though, as more and more player in the industry such as Qualcomm, Skydio, Percepto to name a few are producing self-flying drones. Using artificial intelligence, these drones can fly independently without a human pilot, leave their base, carry out missions, and return to the base.

To realize their full potential, drones must be able to fly beyond the line of sight, which needs among other things, a 5G connection – but what does this entail?

5G for Beyond Line of Sight Drone Operations

5G is one fo the keys to enable autonomous and long-distance flying drones operation in urban environments. This is due to 5G’s increased bandwidth and reduced latency compared to earlier generations of mobile technology. It implies that drones can communicate in real time with one another and with a ground control station.

By reducing latency, operators can view and respond to events in near real time almost as quickly as the human brain. For example, if a drone is flying at 40 km/h, a 100 milliseconds (ms) delay indicates that the drone has flown approximately one meter before the operator views the footage. One meter in a highly dense urban area might easily pose a high risk of collision.

To put things into context The typical latency of a 4G network is roughly 50ms, networks have an average delay of 10ms, and the human brain can interpret a picture viewed for as little as 13ms.

Some definitions

Beyond Visual Line of Sight: Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) is the buzzword in the drone market. Countries throughout the world are revising their drone rules to enable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) for optimal efficiency. Unlike VLOS flights, which fly inside the pilot’s line of sight, BVLOS missions go beyond the pilot’s visual range. A drone’s BVLOS capabilities allow it to travel far longer distances.

Latency: Latency is the amount of time it takes for a command to be sent to a drone and see its response. Shorter latency allows for faster reaction interactions. .

Beyond safety, 5G improves drones capabilities

While increasing the frame rate and enhancing the video compression could potentially help decrease latency, it does not measure with 5G low latency and the network’s strength that impacts transmission time and limits how rapidly data can be delivered reaches a limit.

Because of the connectivity limitations of early drone technology, all data from drone-mounted cameras, sensors, and telemetry could only be transferred from the drone’s hard drive after it had landed. A 5G connection enables the drone to relay data back to base in real time.

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A longer delay also means that operators cannot fly the drones as rapidly, which means that critical activities such as scanning metropolitan areas or executing rescue missions would take too long.

Of course, there would be difficulties in deploying 5G technology. 5G networks, for example, need more infrastructure than previous generations, which might be pricey. Furthermore, buildings and trees may easily obscure 5G signals.

Where does the technology stand today?

Today, most countries demand considerable testing to verify safety and dependability before approving beyond-visual-range unmanned vehicle missions. NUAIR, a New York-based nonprofit organization that provides expertise in unmanned aircraft systems and is a member of Open Generation, manages one of the primary test sites.

In New York, it comprises of a 50-mile unmanned aircraft systems corridor. The corridor contains an experimental hub with more than 100 square miles devoted to 5G beyond-visual-line-of-site testing and long-range flight pathways, including NUAIR coordination – a capacity vital to the commercialization of safe and secure unmanned aircraft systems.

With the advancement of 5G technology we are getting one step closer to making smart city drones a reality, but according to Toni Basile Vice President for Operations at NUAIR Alliance, 5G is only one of the keys to enabling 5G as there are other roadblocks related to regulations and other technical areas.

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What comes next for drones in smart cities?

It’s thrilling to think of all the potential possibilities for drones in urban environments. The sky is literally the limit for these remarkable devices, from package delivery to autonomous flying robots. We can only speculate on what new and novel ways drones may be employed in the next years.

WANT TO GO FURTHER?

As we get closer to overcome the connectivity issue thanks to 5G for drones in urban areas there are still some other roadblocks and opportunities to look for in terms of regulation, technology, and infrastructure. Check out our most recent documentary on the subject to learn more: Documentary will be released on May 11 on kurrantinsights.com 

Diana Blass and Jo Kassis Photo

A story by Diana Blass and Jo Kassis.

Diana is Kurrant Insights’ Editor-in-Chief and video director. She is passionate about technologies that have a real impact on people.

Jo is an IoT-focused content strategist. He creates in-depth reports to keep our readers up to date on the newest industry developments.

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Could connectivity be a threat to autonomous cars?

Could connectivity be a threat to autonomous cars?

Could connectivity be a threat to autonomous cars?

In his article “The Myth of 5G and Driverless Cars”, Doug Dawson, president of CCG Consulting, shares his thoughts on 5G and self-driving vehicles. We asked him about the roadblocks to autonomous cars. He addresses the various connectivity approaches and their limitations, such as consumer running costs and environmental interferences that may prevent cars from communicating.

This post was produced in collaboration with The5GExchange.com

Diana Blass and Jo Kassis Photo

A story by Diana Blass and Jo Kassis.

Diana is Kurrant Insights’ Editor-in-Chief and video director. She is passionate about technologies that have a real impact on people.

Jo is an IoT-focused content strategist. He creates in-depth reports to keep our readers up to date on the newest industry developments.

Autonomous cars are one of the most talked about use cases of 5G, but telecommunication consultant Doug Dawson, President at CCG Consulting has a different view. He says 5G and driverless cars are nothing more than a mess. And he tell us why…

What are the challenges when it comes to building out a 5G network for autonomous cars?

Smart cars have three different paths to take for communications, one is they can be on 5G. Another one is completely the opposite, where they just talk to whoever else they can see, car to car. The third approach is to put a supercomputer in the car, so it doesn’t need help from anybody.

You look around to all the folks developing autonomous cars and there’s somebody trying each of those three approaches. The problem of them using any spectrum is all these cars are going to be interfering with something else around. And there are certain places in the world that you just can’t interfere. We don’t want cars using frequencies to talk to each other when they’re in the waiting line at the airport because the airports do not want interference in their spectrum. And there’s a whole bunch of other places just like that.

Millions of miles of paved roads is a really giant number and to get really good spectrum along all those roads. Who’s going to pay for that? Are we going to charge each car $40 a month for the whole United States to pay for that cellular network? When you go to cellular companies’ annual reports, they still say one of the possible uses for 5G is smart cars, because they just can’t let go of that big dream of every car paying that money.

But we know that people don’t really do that. You know, every new car nowadays comes with that satellite service for the emergencies. They usually give you a one or two years free but 90% of the people don’t pay once it runs out. People do not like to buy a new subscription. That’s the human behavior part of this.

But the main one is technical. The amount of bandwidth you need and the latency it takes to get the signal from the data centers back to the smart car to decide what it needs to do next while its driving makes it almost impossible. So, I think we’re going to end up with no cellular coverage in the cars. It’ll be there for it’ll be there for GPS and to make a cell phone calls but the car will not rely on that.

5g and V2X autonomous cars on the highway

We also hear about V2X communication for autonomous cars. But are there other ones you can tell us about?

The big debate is do we use real light, infrared or radio waves to talk car to car? And they’re trying all three of those.

Light has a problem with the fog. Spectrum has a problem anytime you’re around other users at that same spectrum when you get interference. Because we don’t have any spectrum bands that are pure everywhere, there’s going to always be some places where there’s going to be too much interference. And then, infrared is probably the best, it’s the same thing that’s on your remote control at your house, but that doesn’t go very far. And so, each of the three of them have an issue for cars talking to each other.

But cars talking to each other seems to be an important part of the solution because, on the DC Beltway when 30 cars ahead of you hit their brakes when they’re all communicating with each other, your car gets ready to slow down, which is way better than what you do. You don’t see it until it is only five cars, but the smart cars will say, you know, somebody hit their brakes hard, and it’ll get right back to the chain. That’s an awesome improvement safety wise.

But we need to find which one of those three to do it, and we might use multiple ones. The problem with spectrum is that the FCC already cut that spectrum in half. And so, and most of the car maker manufacturers have already abandoned that research, a few of them are still trying it, but they didn’t scream all that hard when they lost the spectrum. Now they’re off trying, light and infrared and all three of those, including spectrum, doesn’t always work.

Spectrum is probably the trickiest of the three. Radio waves have their issues, particularly when they bounce off metal cars. So, the whole issue of cars communicating with each other in real time is one of the big problems they’re having. You know, they there are people in the car industry that are saying they may not solve that till we have true AI. I think we might have just reached the limit of what computers can do.

AI microchip to power autonomous cars

So, can we expect for network providers and telecoms to even play a role here?

They still have a role because what my smart car today does, when I pull into my house is connect to my Wi-Fi and I have no idea what it’s telling Subaru, I guess it tells everything I did on that trip. And so, the cars still want to communicate with the cloud, they just won’t do it in real time to make driving decisions.

You can download a cartoon for your kid to watch in the backseat while you’re driving. And so what will happen with 5G, which this function’s not enabled yet but it’s coming, is it’ll grab a giant channel and go download the movie in a minute when you have a good cell signal. But whether the cell companies can talk people into buying a subscription to do that is the big question.

The only reason they keep putting that statement is because they really want that to be a revenue stream and right now you don’t have that revenue stream. None of us are paying a cell company for our car and I don’t know what it’s going to take to get them to do that. It could come with the mobile Netflix subscription for five more dollars a month and a lot of people would buy that… but that’s not what they originally planned for 5G.

WATCH THE FULL VIDEO REPORT

Diana Blass and Jo Kassis Photo

A story by Diana Blass and Jo Kassis.

Diana is Kurrant Insights’ Editor-in-Chief and video director. She is passionate about technologies that have a real impact on people.

Jo is an IoT-focused content strategist. He creates in-depth reports to keep our readers up to date on the newest industry developments.

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A broadband fund to bridge the digital divide

A broadband fund to bridge the digital divide

A broadband fund to bridge the digital divide

The $1 trillion Infrastructure plan that includes broadband Internet financing might help bridge the digital divide. More than 30 million Americans do not have access to broadband at minimal speeds. These funds are also important for 5G deployments.

This post was produced in collaboration with The5GExchange.com

A story by Diana Blass and Jo Kassis.

Diana is Kurrant Insights’ Editor-in-Chief and video director. She is passionate about technologies that have a real impact on people.

Jo is an IoT-focused content strategist. He creates in-depth reports to keep our readers up to date on the newest industry developments.

The digital divide is a crisis that came into the spotlight during the COVID 19 pandemic. Its one lawmaker are now desperately trying to address.

According to Ben Edmond, CEO and Founder of Connected2Fiber, “building a fiber network is an extraordinarily capital-intensive endeavor. In rural America, where the digital divide is most prominent, the business case is not always a simple one, but the infrastructure bill really does address that”.

The infrastructure bill continues to be a source of debate on Capitol Hill. But if passed, it sets to include around $65 billion in broadband improvement. At the Asia Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) conference, Virginia Zigras, VP Legislative Affairs at Charter Communication asserted that “the broadband section of that package was really written with the goal of 100% connectivity for all”. She adds “something that this bill does, that I think was really important, is that the drafters really focused on funding first areas that lack broadband today: 25 megabits per second download, three megabits per second upload”.

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FIBER AS A MEAN TO ACHIEVE THE PROMESSES OF 5G

Currently more than 30 million Americans live in areas that lack broadband infrastructure for minimally acceptable speeds. Ben Edmond states that this is especially common in rural areas because “Ultimately, when you just take a step back for a moment, the broadband market and the 5G market are depend on the deployment of key pieces of infrastructure. That process is really, expensive. It’s far more expensive in places like New York City, where the cost per foot to build now can be 100 times greater than rural America.”

He adds “this is part of the issue of getting lots of competitors installing broadband in rural America. It’s more about the return on investment when you’re building a mile of fiber and you only have one or two homes that you’re serving. The X dollars a month that a service provider is going to expect takes a really long time to pay that back if they just did it on their own capital.” That makes the funds allocated in this bill critical to the construction of fiber, which some say is a must in achieving the promise of 5G.

Ben Edmond believes it is one of the most fiber intensive use cases there are because “A spectrum that delivers that high bandwidth over the wireless signal can’t go very far. It needs fiber and antennas at a much greater density than the traditional macro network supporting LTE or 3G. And that takes once again, capital to get that deployed: get the fiber infrastructure, get the antennas placed out.” Its why industry insiders are advocating for initiatives to include policies like “build once” in this bill.

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SHOULD BROADBAND BE RESTRICTED TO FIBER?

“Build once” requires construction workers and developers to build conduits as they dig up the land for their projects.

However, some say that broadband doesn’t necessarily equate to fiber and say that fixed wireless is an option in many areas. Sanjay Udani, VP for Policy at Verizon stated at the APAICS conference “That’s where you have 5G being used to connect homes to offer home broadband. Now, in my mind, that’s a game changer, as far as how we deploy broadband to homes as a country. So, I think we need to keep an open mind as far as looking at all the different broadband options and kind of using what we can as opposed to saying, well, it must be this, or it doesn’t really count as broadband.”

Ben Edmond does not share the same view as he believes that benefit to the overall market will come from fiber deployment “it tends to benefit everything else as well. The wireless gets more speed and resiliency and the broadband to the home, the commercial opportunities, the macro tower backhaul… all tend to benefit.”

GREAT CHANGES WILL REQUIRE TIME

Now, of course, the big question, who will get these funds and how do we pay for it? Experts believe telecoms won’t be the winners and said they say infrastructure or providers will be the beneficiaries. They include fiber providers, cloud players and packet gear vendors. The White House also suggested using 5G auctions as a funding method, but that can be difficult as the Department of Defense, who currently uses two thirds of America’s radio waves, says a 5G auction could lead to security concerns.

Clearly, there is a lot to unpack here and even more once the bill passes and when it does Ben Edmond tells us not to expect these changes to happen overnight because “Infrastructure takes time to build, just like building highways and bridges and in other things. It’s a multi-year endeavor to go out and really close the gap of the digital divide and build all the infrastructure needed”. But what is certain is that this infrastructure bill makes a massive headway and accelerate that process.

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Diana Blass and Jo Kassis Photo

A story by Diana Blass and Jo Kassis.

Diana is Kurrant Insights’ Editor-in-Chief and video director. She is passionate about technologies that have a real impact on people.

Jo is an IoT-focused content strategist. He creates in-depth reports to keep our readers up to date on the newest industry developments.

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Smart production and logistics provide significant 5G prospects

Smart production and logistics provide significant 5G prospects

Smart production and logistics provide significant 5G prospects

At the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, we met Yachen Gong a Research Fellow from the competence center 5G.NRM in Germany to learn more about the 5G trends shaping Europe.

This post was produced in collaboration with The5GExchange.com

A story by Diana Blass and Jo Kassis.

Diana is Kurrant Insights’ Editor-in-Chief and video director. She is passionate about technologies that have a real impact on people.

Jo is an IoT-focused content strategist. He creates in-depth reports to keep our readers up to date on the newest industry developments.

Yachen Gong spoke with us about the Analysys Mason study that looks into the four most important sectors in the whole 5G ecosystem across Europe.

She explained that “they define a 5G Open Innovation Platform in which they include four clusters: Smart production and logistics, Smart rural, Smart urban and Smart public services. For each of those clusters they conducted an in-depth analysis that determined that the highest revenue is generated from the smart production and logistics cluster.” She adds that “if we go to the use case level, the highest economic benefit to the European GDP is generated by smart factories, in fixed wireless access and in agriculture”.

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According to the study, 5G will drive €200 billion in value across Europe. The researchers base the expected benefits on the outcomes derived from several European trials like this one here deployed by the UK water utility provider Northumbria Water, who use 5G augmented reality to remotely inspect assets. Researchers go on to say that the €200 billion benefit comes at a cost of €50 billion meaning technology will deliver over four times the benefits than what it will cost taxpayers and vendors.

BUT WHEN WILL IT ALL BECOME REALITY?

Joe Dignan, European Head Government Insights at IDC states that “There’s so much hype around the 5G, and I have great difficulty finding real examples of where 5G is actually working.” It’s a sentiment echoed in this article by the Financial Times titled “Europe falls further behind US & Asia in 5G rollout”, which states that Europe’s 5G deployments are lagging behind those in America and Asia. Experts blame heavy handed and inconsistent regulations on the slow down and go on to say that freeing up spectrum could change that.

For Dignan “The biggest thing the U.S. telco industry could potentially do is to create more connectivity in rural areas.” Gong tells us that “for example, the agriculture vertical in small rural, it’s not happening a lot right now, but if you look at the 5G funded computation from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, digitalization, energy and innovation, you can definitely see two contexts standing out from the second round, which are exactly in the sector of smart rural. This did not happen in the first round, which indicates a trend that is definitely taking off right now.

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SOME 5G USE CASES ARE STARTING TO EMERGE IN EUROPE 

In Gong’s home country of Germany, initiatives are underway to streamline 5G deployments, specifically, her region of North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the few areas to dedicate public funding to 5G innovation. Gong mentions “one of our partners, Technical University of Dortmund have developed a very practical tool called the “campus network planner” that helps companies calculate the cost of setting up their own private network in Germany”.

And with that, new use cases are being developed such as “5G inclusion 4.0 that focuses on the inclusion of people with impairment in the primary labor market given that by law there should be at least a 5% employment rate of severely disabled people, which is pretty challenging for a lot of companies. But at the same time, a lot of companies really struggle to find a qualified workforce. So, the project uses 5G technology to help these people get access to work with technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, and smart glasses for example”.

It all comes as the pandemic shines a light on the value of connectivity in mobile networks, which is why Europe has named 5G as a key lever in its economic recovery. The EU has dedicated as much as €150 billion for digital investments from its stimulus package. But will that be enough for the EU to catch up in the 5G race?

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Diana Blass and Jo Kassis Photo

A story by Diana Blass and Jo Kassis.

Diana is Kurrant Insights’ Editor-in-Chief and video director. She is passionate about technologies that have a real impact on people.

Jo is an IoT-focused content strategist. He creates in-depth reports to keep our readers up to date on the newest industry developments.

RELATED POSTS

ACCESS HUNDREDS OF DOCUMENTARIES ABOUT SMART CITIES AND IOT!

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