Drone Fleets From WiFi to 4G With BT

Unmanned Life revealed a world first this week at BT Innovation 2017 Autonomous Drones-as-a-Service operating on a 4G LTE network.

In Unmanned Life’s efforts to utilise a new network, we partnered with British Telecom, Ericsson and Saguna to create a platform that would engage with Ericsson SIM cards and run in conjunction with a Saguna Multi-access Edge Computing Server. The system was a huge success and was revealed to the world at BT Innovation week with a livestream demo and exhibition space.

So what does all this look like and what does it mean for the future of UML?

The Tech Stuff

To put it simply latency is crucial when it comes to autonomous drone flight, if two units receive instructions or data packets from the software too late or at different points in time they will crash or divert from their flight path. By installing a MEC Server on site, the data packets our drones are sending are immediately re-routed to our Drone Control Application Server. Re-routing data creates a closed loop where specific data for autonomous flight is sent directly to where it needs to be and all other data packets travel to the EPC which in this case was in Germany.

Cutting out the need for EPC approval means that all data reaches its desired destination sooner which translates to smoother drone flights and less jittery autonomous maneuvers.

The Pretty Stuff

World’s first indoor Autonomous Drones Swarm for Industrial Automation on a 4G LTE network from Unmanned Life on Vimeo.

The routine was relatively simple so it didn’t take long for our software to engage these two drones and have them dancing in perfect unison. From take off the drones first make sure they have located their landing mark which is the black and white pad directly beneath them, once this is done they align their height and distance from one another and begin to dance. When they are done the software tells them to find their mark again, align, then descend for a precision landing.

Getting two drones to follow each other up and down on a stage may not seem very innovative but this is just the first step and of course for the demo simplicity was key. Moving forward Unmanned Life will begin to integrate these flying units into our current pilot for an Autonomous Drone Based Sorting Centre. Currently the pilot involves multiple UGV units collecting and delivering packages in a factory based environment.

The Future

Unmanned Life will continue to deliver innovative designs and perfect our vision of a unified autonomous software system for industrial application. Collaborating with BT, Ericsson and Saguna was a humbling and motivating experience from which we have learnt a lot as a team and a business, we look forward to collaborating with these teams again in the future.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank BT for their help arranging and launching the demo and directly connecting livestream footage to our booth throughout Innovation 2017, the response from both fellow exhibitors, innovation experts and the decision makers in attendance was astounding.

With a big announcement just around the corner and the Unmanned Life team preparing for the further development and integration of UAV’s into our Autonomous Drones-as-a-Service software platform we look forward to the future and hope you stay connected with us for the journey ahead. 

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