By Chris Stonor
InDro Robotics (IDR), a Canadian drone start-up based in British Columbia, is collaborating with telecommunications giant Rogers along with the University of British Columbia (UBC), to explore future 5G use cases for drone technologies, reports betakit.com. This collaboration is to investigate new applications for drones including agriculture sensors to limit pesticide use, large-scale multi-drone deliveries and wildfire prevention sensors.
InDro Robotics founder, Philip Reece, commented, “(5G) allows us to fly anywhere where you’ve got cellular and given 96 percent of the Canadian population is covered by the Rogers network, our craft can fly hundreds of kilometres down a path.” Adding, “That means we can fly pretty much everywhere.”
While, drones are usually operated using radiofrequency, IDR claims to be “the first drone company in Canada” to shift its connectivity approach from radiofrequency to a cellular network. Reece says that this approach allows the operators to control drones over further distances. The craft currently have a range of over 50 kilometres through the Rogers’ cellular network. The start-up is targetting a range of 200 kilometres in the near future. At the end of this collaboration, IDR aim to go live with a number of new services.
These include a fully autonomous process for mail delivery, where a mail cluster box for a drone to land on top of and disperse items for people to later pick up, is being developed. IDR hope that Canada Post may use this technology .
Neel Dayal, Director of Innovation and Partnerships at Rogers, comments, “In addition, we are working with University Professors to research traffic management systems to help manage communication and flight path contention.”
Rogers and UBC also have in place a separate long-term collaboration aimed to build a 5G Hub on the UBC campus. This hub is hoped to be a test-bed and blueprint for 5G innovation in Canada. As part of that partnership, Rogers began deploying 5G-ready network equipment and infrastructure to UBC in early 2019. Dayal adds, “We all had common interests in the potential uses around Beyond Visual Line of Sight flight and 5G and the University and its 5G smart campus is the ideal place to further this research.”
Meanwhile, InDro Robotics is the first drone company in Canada to receive a Canadian Transportation Agency licence to carry commercial goods. This licence, which IDR received this week allows the start-up to give its Heavy Lift Wayfinder Drone to ship increased cargo over longer distances. The company also has extended distances approval from Transport Canada for 25 kilometres.
Founded in 2014, InDro Robotics has a present team of 22 people with a further six being added this month. The startup has offices in Salt Spring Island, Vancouver, and Victoria, and also recently opened an office near Ottawa.
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(News Source: https://betakit.com)