M1 and NTU researching 4.5G HetNet for secure drone operations
M1 and Nanyang Technological University announced today that they have conducted successful trials using M1’s 4.5G Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) to provide command, control and communication capabilities required for safe and efficient drone operations. The Air Traffic Management Research Institute (ATMRI), a joint research centre by NTU Singapore and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) demonstrated the technology by flying a purpose-built drone using M1’s 4.5G HetNet around M1’s premises at International Business Park, as well as two fields in Wan Shih Road and Old Holland Road.
Conventional drone operations use an unlicensed spectrum such as 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi to provide short range line-of-sight drone control but it is susceptible to radio signal interference. In contrast, a well-optimized 4.5G HetNet provides secured, low latency and high throughput mobile connectivity, enabling drones to fly beyond visual range in an urban environment. In addition, drones using a 4.5G network could send real-time data and telemetry feeds during flight.
To further the collaboration, M1 and ATMRI signed a Memorandum of Understanding today, to research and develop M1’s 4.5G HetNet for the traffic management of UAS in Singapore’s urban environment. The findings from this research could provide valuable insight for unmanned operations using future 5G Ultra Reliable Low-Latency Communication (URLLC) network.
Leading the joint research project will be Professor Low Kin Huat, an expert in robotics and UAVs from NTU’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and ATMRI senior research fellow Mohamed Faisal Bin Mohamed Salleh. Together with engineers from M1, NTU researchers will map out the signal strengths and end-to-end latency of M1’s HetNet for Singapore’s entire urban airspace using drones, up to 130 metres, the height of a 36-storey building. This will help researchers to identify suitable airspace for reliable command and control of drones, including flights out of visual range.
The joint project is expected to last three years, with M1 providing usage of their network and their engineering expertise, while NTU provides the expertise in traffic management of unmanned aircraft systems.