Oct 30, 2020 | Updated: 09:48 PM EDT

Long-Range Drone Operation Moves Closer After Qualcomm Completes LTE Drone Trials

May 11, 2017 07:11 AM EDT

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Qualcomm engineers conducted over 1,000 flight tests of drones to prove it could be controlled better remotely using 4G LTE cellular network. They made the tests because of the rules of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) made in June 2016 that limited drone operation to Line-of-Sight instead of controlling the drones Beyond Visual Line of Sight.

The tests were done at the UAS Flight Center of Qualcomm in San Diego where the engineers flew the drones at an altitude of 400 feet. The findings of the drone trials say that at 400 feet, the drone’s cellular signal is very strong. The handover from one cell tower to another, using 4G LTE cellular network, was very successful than when ground-based phones were used, Engadget reports.

Following the findings of the report, Qualcomm started improving its 4G LTE cellular network to support drone operations. The improvements include better interference mitigation, power control optimization, and selection optimization of cell towers. The tests show drones would no longer be limited by range. It brings the drone industry one more step closer to long-range drone operations such as package delivery, Inc reports.

According to Fierce Wireless, the Qualcomm tests using 4G LTE cellular network used the commercially available spectrum of AT&T. The testers also acquired a certification of authorization from the FAA since the UAS Flight Center in San Diego was within a highly restricted Class B airspace. The trials were done at ground level and at 30, 60, 90, and 120 meters above ground. The engineers focused on the PCS, AWS, and 700 MHz bands as they performed take-offs and landings from one of the buildings of Qualcomm with an inactive helipad.

Besides the test using 4G LTE cellular network, Qualcomm would also conduct another 3GPP research after it accepted a study item in March to enhance LTE support for aerial vehicles.

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