How LTE Enables Long-Range Communication In Drones
The increasing popularity of drone technology is very evident in China and the US. In just a few years drones are expected to perform a large number of tasks, from delivery services to infrastructure inspection. To perform these tasks, the drone should be able to do long-range communication. Mobility support provides connectivity to the drones flying in the sky and beyond the visual line of sight. It is a key feature for all the other applications of multi-rotors.
Autonomous drones require a radio or wifi to communicate with a connected network. Radio controlled drones work on 2.4 GHz to 5.8 GHz. The radio frequency is used by the quadcopter to connect to a ground transmitter. Drones can also be controlled with a cellular network that is constantly available all over the city and the LTE base station makes it a more accurate and effective solution for controlling drones in a long-range communication system.
In this blog, we will discuss how mobility solution is a key requirement for many drone use cases.
Recently, 4G LTE drones have been making waves. For most of its existence. Drones or UAV’s are radio-controlled aircraft that are piloted using a hand-held radio transmitter.
Multi-rotors are remotely controlled with the transmitter communicating with the receiver in the drone that sends signals to the servos to control the craft. But the main downside of the radio receivers is the distance limitation. The maximum distance of commercial drone is 5 miles with a big antenna on the transmitter. Otherwise, it is less than 5 miles for the transmitter using small antennas. It is essential for drones to do long-range communication for various beyond visual line of sight operations.
To avoid incidents from happening, most of the drones are manufactured with a flight control system and fail-safe feature. Once the drone loses connection with the transmitter, it will return to its home point. This helps in keeping the drone safe from getting lost. The needs of beyond visual line of sight don’t stop here which requires a long-range communication system to perform such operations.
4G LTE is an alternative to the radio control system that can eliminate the short distances limitation of a drone. In terms of using a drone for search and rescue missions, the 4G network allows a drone to fly several miles away from the controller or pilot.
The distance improvement, in turn, improves the efficiency of drone applications. Replacing the standard radio control feature of drones with a 4G LTE network connection has several advantages experienced while in flight.
Benefits of long-range communication in drones
- LTE networks are transmitted by satellites and broadcasted via towers. It also eliminates distance limitation and Hence, it helps in long-range communication with the drone.
- Drones using a 2.4 or 5.8 GHz communications encounters issues such as the high signal to noise ratio. 4G LTE drones are not affected by this because the control or communication is powered by 4G LTE mobile internet with 2.4 GHz for backup.
- A 4G connection is more stable in urban areas this means drone operators can efficiently fly drones without any interference in communication. Also, it is possible in rural areas after the large improvement in cellular network coverage. Flying a drone in large urban or rural areas won’t be a problem as far as ‘signal to noise ratio’ is concerned.
- LTE networks usually keep operating during natural disasters and are extremely difficult to cut down or jam by any external activities. This means drones can communicate better with the long-range communication system.
The forecasted significant growth and widespread applications of drone present major challenges for regulators around the world. Some of the challenges include –
4G LTE networks can be very unstable at times. The IP address of every drone changes whenever it crosses into a new cellular network, making the task of tracking IP’s of every drone more challenging.
Network delay is always a problem. Real-time controlling of the drone via network requires good network conditions. It’s practically impossible to ensure that the network will always remain constant.
LTE networks are everywhere today but it requires significant infrastructure in a region to operate. This static nature of LTE base stations limits their ability to handle some important mobile network use cases such as Emergency conditions where the infrastructure itself could be compromised.
Mobile networks can provide a proven and flexible communication channel to support the various requirements of drone use cases from low latency to high bandwidth scenarios. At the same time, the use of licensed bands and encrypted communication increases the safety of drone applications. 4G LTE and the upcoming 5G networks support a variety of capabilities that fit well with drone requirements.
Jungleworks is constantly working on providing better and advanced technology to its customers. We provide end to end drone delivery solution that’s easy, fast and accurate for any business use and working on long-range communication drones. Our recent collaboration with various institutions will forge a way for future 4G LTE enabled drones for long-range communication.
The goal is to make drones fly even farther with a 4G network connection. The distance improvement improves the efficiency of every other drone applications.
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