Tele­fóni­ca announced today it has accom­plished a first use case in Spain, based on 5G-con­nec­tion for a suc­cess­ful drone deliv­ery of a pack­age, reports a press release. The main objec­tive was to eval­u­ate how a 5G net­work “can facil­i­tate the devel­op­ment and imple­men­ta­tion of ser­vices with drones” with­in urban envi­ron­ments.

This use case is to be dis­cussed at a pre­sen­ta­tion enti­tled ‘Drones 5G, present and future’, tak­ing place on Feb­ru­ary 28th, dur­ing the Mobile World Con­gress 2023 at the Ago­ra Cen­tre, Valen­cia.

The release states, “The tri­al con­sist­ed of sev­er­al fly­ing drones, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each oth­er, with­in an urban envi­ron­ment. The aim was to achieve a cor­rect deliv­ery of a pack­age to a mobile col­lec­tion point, while anoth­er drone flight in a restrict­ed area zone attempt­ed to impede its flight.”

The project is part of the Tele­fóni­ca 5G Madrid pro­pos­al, where the Min­istry of Eco­nom­ic Affairs and Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion via, and co-financed with FEDER funds, is pro­mot­ing the use of 5G in Spain.

Tele­fóni­ca is col­lab­o­rat­ing with Gra­di­ant “for the devel­op­ment, inte­gra­tion and imple­men­ta­tion of the intel­li­gent coop­er­a­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem (based on 5G and C‑V2X)”, with­in a smart city, as well as Corre­os (a pio­neer­ing com­pa­ny in the explo­ration of new drone deliv­ery solu­tions). Eric­s­son is also par­tic­i­pat­ing along­side Genasys (LBS ser­vice and emer­gency com­mu­ni­ca­tion spe­cial­ist) with an analy­sis and study of what 5G can offer.

Use cas­es imple­ment­ed as part of the tri­al:-

Traf­fic coor­di­na­tion between two drones: One drone inter­cepts the pas­sage of anoth­er drone, detect­ing a risk of col­li­sion. One of the drones stops, giv­ing way to the oth­er one, thus avoid­ing a col­li­sion and then each drone con­tin­ues on its own route.

Restrict­ed area warn­ing: A bea­con con­nect­ed on the ground marks a restrict­ed area and con­stant­ly reports its loca­tion. The drone on its tra­jec­to­ry, upon enter­ing that zone, detects that it is a restrict­ed area, leaves and pro­ceeds to go around it, con­tin­u­ing on its route.

Pack­age deliv­ery at a mobile deliv­ery point: The mobile col­lec­tion point is equipped with the bea­con con­nect­ed in such a way that it peri­od­i­cal­ly sends its posi­tion and so the drone goes to that point and makes a pre­cise land­ing.

Leonor Ostos, Inno­va­tion Man­ag­er at Tele­fon­i­ca Spain, com­ment­ed, “This inno­v­a­tive use case aris­es from a future need. The appli­ca­tions of drones in both the busi­ness and every­day world are innu­mer­able: trans­porta­tion of goods, pho­tog­ra­phy, search and res­cue, agri­cul­ture, engi­neer­ing inspec­tions, 3D map­ping, sur­veil­lance, envi­ron­ment, recre­ation­al flights, etc..” He con­tin­ued, “For all of these, drones need com­mu­ni­ca­tions where data is trans­mit­ted and col­lect­ed in real time. This project aims to deep­en these pos­si­bil­i­ties.”

The release con­tin­ues, “To make this tri­al pos­si­ble, it has been nec­es­sary to com­bine sev­er­al tech­nolo­gies such as 5G, C‑V2X com­mu­ni­ca­tions (the same ones used in the con­nect­ed car), RTK tech­nol­o­gy and mobile local­i­sa­tion.”

Oth­er Glob­al Drone Deliv­ery Com­pa­nies are Explor­ing 5G as well as 6G

5G tech­nol­o­gy with its low laten­cy and high band­width is key for the devel­op­ment of drone deliv­ery, as low laten­cies are deci­sive to estab­lish real-time com­mu­ni­ca­tion between drones and drone-con­nect­ed objects.

C‑V2X tech­nol­o­gy, used in vehic­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tions, has enabled the drone’s abil­i­ty to inter­act with its envi­ron­ment through short-range mes­sages, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with a Smart City to react to chang­ing envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions. RTK tech­nol­o­gy (Real-Time Kinet­ic Satel­lite Nav­i­ga­tion) offers pre­cise loca­tions with cen­time­tre mar­gins of error, essen­tial for pre­cise sit­u­a­tions like the land­ing of drones on mobile mail­box­es.

In addi­tion, the 5G loca­tion ser­vice, which pro­vides loca­tion infor­ma­tion and an esti­mate of the drone’s dis­tance from the anten­na, is pro­posed as a sec­ond inde­pen­dent posi­tion­ing source to con­trast the posi­tion cal­cu­lat­ed with GNSS, guar­an­tee­ing the integri­ty of the posi­tion­ing.

For more infor­ma­tion

(Images: Tele­fóni­ca)