The current pandemic SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) have shown the importance of drones in the fight in suppressing the advance of the virus so far drones have been successful in surveillance, on-site broadcast, disinfectant, deliveries, temperature check and construction assistance. This applications are however limited to government applications, with mostly policing applications where countries have empowered their police forces to use drones. With the knowledge that drones, in particulars Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), are effective in policing the main challenge is can this be taken to civilian applications effectively as was shown during the SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The biggest challenges for Civilian Drone (UAV) flight is management and control to ensure that they don’t post a treat to life and property, NASA have been working for a nationwide UAV traffic control for some time now and its becoming a race against time with several private enterprises rushing the development of their delivery drones. The challenge that exists today is the future of drone flight, especially with air travel not expected to be back to normal for the foreseeable future, companies can use their innovations today to pave the way for the future of flight post SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Several large enterprises today already use UAV (drones) for inspection in particular Oil and Gas, Rail, Transport and Logistics. Some of them are trying to create their own flight management to manage the small number of flights to implement the work they are doing. The main drawback to the lack of cooperation between industries is that there are a lot of unmanaged Drone (UAV) flights that intersect with each other, or on the same flight zones and the same geographical areas. This uncontrolled multi-flight scenarios are posing a huge risk to life and property, not only to the drones themselves. Is the solution a fully nationalise Drone (UAV) flight control and management? Or is there an intermediate solution before a nationwide flight and management control becomes available?
At AWTG, we started working with unmanned drone command and control UAVs two years ago, mostly for 5G development. This resulted to AI-based command and control of drone flights, which we now utilised for field inspection, security and safety application, rapid emergency response. These innovations are being developed further to enable AI-based control and management of drone flights, starting with private and public enterprisesand hopefully integrated to a nationwide system on.
To ensure that every private and public enterprise can create Drone (UAV) flight management systems that are interworking with each other there should be an openAPI available for interrelated flight management same way as that there are openAPIs today for Drone flight control (https://www.dronecode.org). The implementation will come in several phases of innovation. Where the first phase will be flight approval system with human management for individual sectors and market verticals, the second phase will be integrated flight approval system with human management for multiple verticals, the third phase will be an integrated AI-based control and management system covering multiple industries. The fourth and final phase will be a nationwide adoption of various systems through a openAPIs and managed by authorities to ensure a safe and secure flight environment. To reach this point the land based network is very important, especially for beyond line of sight (when a human drone controller has no direct visual control of the drone) and in a lot of cases there is no connectivity between the UAV and the remote controller. This can be achieve with the use of 4G or 5G networks integrated with satellite systems to control UAV beyond line of site (BLOS) considering that these mobile technologies are already available everywhere.
In today’s world the application of Drones both UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle) are gaining widespread adoption. The future where we see more than products deliveries using Drones is already here and ones that carry human cargo is not far away. This is a future where we are currently innovating from Connected and Autonomous Vehicles to the Future of Flight.