US government taps AT&T drone expertise - Mobile World Live

US government taps AT&T drone expertise

11 MAY 2018

AT&T’s experience with drones is set to be put to fresh use in two federal test projects which will help guide US government policy on the use of unmanned aircraft.

The operator confirmed to Mobile World Live it is participating in pilot schemes in Virginia and San Diego: two of ten projects selected by US secretary of transportation Elaine Chao from a prospective list of almost 150.

Announced in October 2017, Chao said data gathered in the tests will “form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace”.

In Virginia, AT&T will team with Alphabet’s Project Wing and Intel, among others, in a three-year project led by Virginia Tech to explore use cases including package deliveries, emergency management and infrastructure inspection. An AT&T representative said the operator will provide cellular connectivity for advanced drone operations including flights which venture beyond visual line of sight.

The project in San Diego will see AT&T and Qualcomm explore public safety applications for drones. The operator said it plans to apply insights from the trial to its FirstNet emergency responder network to offer subscribers more technologies to assist their public safety mission.

AT&T is no stranger to drones, having experimented with the technology for several years to inspect its tower infrastructure and provide portable cellular coverage in emergency situations.

Broad tech presence
Other big name technology players involved in the government programme include Apple, which will work with North Carolina’s Department of Transportation on a project covering deliveries of blood and other medical supplies to hospitals and testing facilities.

Microsoft is also taking part, teaming with the Kansas Department of Transportation to test the use of drones for road and bridge inspections, as well as locating and assisting stranded drivers.

Additional projects will also be conducted in Oklahoma, Florida, Tennessee, North Dakota, Nevada and Alaska.

Author

Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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