Qualcomm launches autonomous drone platform with 5G and AI capabilities

Qualcomm launches autonomous drone platform with 5G and AI capabilities
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Qualcomm has launched Flight RB5 5G, the “world’s first” autonomous drone platform with 5G and AI capabilities.

The company says the platform will support and accelerate the development and deployment of autonomous drones for commercial, enterprise, and industrial purposes. An onboard Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit achieves the modern cybersecurity requirements for drones.

Dev Singh, Senior Director of Business Development and General Manager of Autonomous Robotics, Drones and Intelligent Machines at Qualcomm Technologies, said:

“We have continued to engage many leading drone companies, enabling 200+ global robotics and drone ecosystem members in addition to consistently driving and promoting worldwide drone standardization and transformative 5G capabilities in organisations such as 3GPP, GSMA, the Global UTM Alliance, the Aerial Connectivity Joint Initiative (ACJA) and ASTM.

We are proud to continue our momentum of enabling the digital transformation of global industries by unveiling the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform, a solution that is purpose-built for drone development with enhanced autonomy and intelligence features, bringing premium connected flight capabilities to industrial, enterprise and commercial segments.”

The use cases envisioned by Qualcomm for its drone platform include; security and emergency response, delivery, film and entertainment, defense, inspection, and mapping. Power-efficient inference at the edge via the platform’s high-performance and heterogeneous computing supports AI and machine learning capabilities to enable such use cases.

Allen Salmasi, CEO of Veea, commented:

“Many of the anticipated benefits of drones will be further accelerated and strengthened with 5G, including monitoring critical infrastructure, crowd management, and emergency response which includes detection, containment and extinguishing of wildfires, reporting on crop health, monitoring of livestock and irrigation systems at large acreage farms, and much more. The large majority of these use cases require a highly secure and reliable connection that can be more readily supported with 5G connections.

We are excited to see Qualcomm Technologies continuing to push the boundaries of innovation with their latest announcement on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform and we at Veea are looking forward to using these technologies to innovate across our deployments of hybrid edge-cloud solutions such as at large farms, wildlife parks, stadiums, smart cities, large construction sites and similar projects.”

RB5 5G features 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity to enhance critical flying abilities beyond visual line-of-sight. Through a partnership with Verizon, the 5G mmWave-capable platform is going through network testing and is expected to be offered via the operator’s ThingSpace Marketplace.

Eric T. Ringer, Co-Founder and Chief of Staff at Skyward, a Verizon company, said:

“The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform provides a robust hardware platform that can be certified for the Verizon 5G network, offering the ecosystem of drone developers a simple path to get connected.

That means drones built with the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform can leverage the massive capacity of Verizon 5G Ultra-Wideband to navigate the National Airspace System in safer and more productive ways than ever before.”

Qualcomm’s recent success with the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars adds serious credibility to its new autonomous drone platform.

Ingenuity was in development since 2014 as part of a collaboration between Qualcomm and NASA Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL). Naturally, it faced significant challenges including the need to handle tough environments and overcome a delay of up to 22 minutes after a command has been sent millions of miles away—making real-time control impossible.

Qualcomm took its experience from Ingenuity into the development of its RB5 5G autonomous drone platform. Qualcomm Flight passes JPL’s simulation tests for Mars here on Earth.

The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G drone reference design is available for pre-sale now through ModalAI. The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G development kit is expected to become available in Q4 2021.

Want to find out more from executives and thought leaders in this space? Find out more about the Digital Twin World event, taking place on 8-9 September 2021, which will explore augmenting business outcomes in more depth and the industries that will benefit.

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