Skip to main content

5G drones pass safety test using new ‘sky corridors’

Vodafone and Ericsson test new 5G drone technology.
(Image credit: Ericsson.)

Vodafone and Ericsson have successfully tested safe sky corridors for drones at Vodafone’s 5G Mobility Lab in Aldenhoven, Germany, as the two companies move a step closer to enabling real-world use cases for 5G drones.

In a proof of concept trial, which was recently conducted at Vodafone’s 5G Mobility Lab in Aldenhoven, Germany, Ericsson and Vodafone used data intelligence to produce coverage maps, which meant that drones could be operated safely, avoiding other objects, so long as they retained a connection to the network.

“The mobile network is a data-rich asset that can be responsibly and securely utilised to aid society,” said Vodafone Group’s CTO Johan Wibergh. “We are evolving our software-driven, intelligent network into a powerful platform that can deliver new digital services. The responsible use of drones is just one such example but there will be many more.”

Building on previous projects

And this trial comes hot on the heels of a similar test, where Vodafone in Spain managed to use a 5G drone to fly a lightweight defibrillator to a testing scenario, where a cardiac arrest patient required treatment.

The technology being developed by Vodafone will be available as part of its Telco as a Service (TaaS) offering, and enables two key pieces of information to be passed on to third-parties via an API, so users can quickly and easily plot a pre-determined path for a drone, ensuring constant contact with the control centre, even when out of sight.

"APIs will speed up the adoption of drones for commercial and public sector use, bringing many benefits."

Johan Wibergh, Vodafone.

“APIs will speed up the adoption of drones for commercial and public sector use, bringing many benefits such as being able to assess fires, deliver medical supplies, and help businesses survey hazardous conditions like construction sites, power lines and our own mobile masts, quicker and more safely,” Wibergh explained.

During the trial, the two companies also pulled together anonymized mobile user data, such as location, so the drone could avoid heavily crowded areas down on the ground. This was achieved using Vodafone’s ‘Network Exposure Layer’, which makes network data easy to utilize, whilst keeping it secure, which will enable a raft of new 5G use cases.

"Drones are immensely powerful tools for many businesses and we are only scratching the surface of the possibilities they open up."

Erik Ekudden, Ericsson.

“Drones are immensely powerful tools for many businesses and we are only scratching the surface of the possibilities they open up, which makes our collaboration with Vodafone all the more exciting,” said Erik Ekudden, senior vice president at Ericsson. 

“Smarter network capabilities on our reliable mobile network will enable key industries such as healthcare, construction, and agriculture to accelerate site deployment, reduce health and safety hazards, and help save lives. With this technology, service providers can expand their cellular IoT services for enterprises and confidently meet regulatory guidelines. This is another milestone in Ericsson’s partnership with Vodafone, as we continue to evolve our network and meet the diverse needs of fundamental industries.”

Dan is a British journalist with 20 years of experience in the design and tech sectors, producing content for the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Dell and The Sunday Times. In 2012 he helped launch the world's number one design blog, Creative Bloq. Dan is now editor-in-chief at 5Gradar, where he oversees news, insight and reviews, providing an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up-to-date with the key issues facing 5G.