Vodafone and Ericsson use network intelligence for connected drones

Vodafone and Ericsson trial established automated flight paths for connected drones using intelligent aspects of the mobile network.
Vodafone drone trial
The technological breakthrough will allow professional drone operators, critical national infrastructure providers and emergency services to deliver services at the correct destination on time whilst remaining connected to the mobile network.

Vodafone and Ericsson used intelligence from the network to produce coverage maps, which enabled the drone to stay in areas with a good signal up in the air. They also collated anonymised mobile user information so the drone could avoid crowded areas down on the ground. They did this using information obtained via Vodafone’s Network Exposure Layer, which makes network data easy to utilise, whilst keeping it secure.

Vodafone can provide two key pieces of information to trusted third parties via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to enable users to plot a pre-determined path for the drone, ensuring constant contact with the control centre, even when out of sight. In this scenario, Vodafone could offer a hospital access, via an API, to non-sensitive network information to send a drone to a scene of an accident.

As part of a separate test simulation, Vodafone in Spain recently flew a lightweight defibrillator to the scene of a cardiac arrest patient using a drone controlled by 5G.

Vodafone Group’s chief technology officer Johan Wibergh said: “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.”

“Smarter network capabilities on our 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,” Erik Ekudden, CTO and head of Group Function Technology of Ericsson, said.