Telstra Runs Drone Swarm Trial with Mobile ‘Cell on Wings’

Telstra Runs Drone Swarm Trial with Mobile ‘Cell on Wings’ Image Credit: Telstra

Telstra said it is developing and trialling new drone technologies that have the potential to assist in disaster management scenarios using the mobile network.

Telstra Labs team recently demonstrated a drone swarm and a mobile ‘cell on wings’ that use 4G network. The drone swarm is a group of drones controlled by a single pilot flying in formation and using vision capture to quickly and efficiently map an area impacted by fire or flood.

As the technology and regulations evolve, allowing for more than one drone per pilot, drone swarms will be able to be deployed routinely to simultaneously cover and search a large area - something that could save lives in an emergency rescue situation, and time and money in less dramatic situations, said Telstra.

The ‘cell on wings’ is a mobile small cell mounted on a drone in order to temporarily boost mobile network coverage in a local area, which is particularly useful in emergency situations. This can be done through a tethered backhaul, by wiring a network cable to the drone from the ground while it is flying, or via a wireless line of site extension, relaying the signal from another tower.

Hakan Eriksson, CTO, Telstra
The mobile network allows us to quickly send and receive data from the drone, and allows the pilots to safely set up missions for multiple drones through a single platform with visibility and control over all the drones that are flying. In the future 5G will allow operators using this type of technology to run missions end-to-end with an extensive data uplink capability. 

Ray is a news editor at The Fast Mode, bringing with him more than 10 years of experience in the wireless industry.

For tips and feedback, email Ray at ray.sharma(at), or reach him on LinkedIn @raysharma10, Facebook @1RaySharma


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