Key groups driving a digital push in Singapore teamed with operator M1 and aerospace company Airbus to assess the viability of 5G-powered drones to deliver new maritime use cases alongside incident management and response functions.

Regulator the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore plan to conduct drone trials in coastal areas using M1’s standalone (SA) 5G network. In a statement, IMDA said the real-world tests aim to ensure drones can operate safely and efficiently during all flight phases, including in designated flight zones.

M1 is working with Team One Technologies, which is designing and developing what it says will be the world’s first aeronautical certified SA 5G communication modem for urban air mobility operations: this is due to be tested and optimised during the trials.

The operator will provide network planning and collect relevant performance and coverage data. It also will assess the use of mobile technologies to provide enhanced geo-location positioning information for all phases of drone flights using network-based information, which it said is more precise than current Global Navigation Satellite Systems technologies.

M1 CEO Manjot Singh Mann said the partnership provides an opportunity to shape the future of urban air mobility technologies by using an advanced SA 5G network.

Airbus will supply a fleet of drones for testing along with expertise in the integration of the unmanned aircraft.

Isabel Del Pozo De Poza, head of unmanned traffic management at Airbus, said the collaboration will establish key mobile 5G performance metrics and requirements to enable unmanned aircraft systems to safely integrate and fly in national airspace systems.

M1 and Airbus also agreed to conduct connectivity trials for in-land areas.