According to the World Economic Forum, drones have the potential to transform business models and tackle societal challenges around the globe. For example, they can be used in agriculture to increase crop yields, applied in industrial settings to make dangerous jobs safer and used to deliver important medical support to remote populations.
In sectors like oil and gas, they can reduce operators’ carbon footprint by replacing traditional foot patrolling and vehicular and aerial surveillance methods. Since pipeline usage continues to expand, companies and governments are looking for innovative ways to inspect and maintain this infrastructure efficiently and responsibly.
TELUS, a global communications technology company based in Canada, provides a wide range of telecommunications products and services, including internet access, voice, entertainment, health services, agriculture technology and much more. The company is now working to useAirborneRF solutions to scale up the number of beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone flights for this greener industrial use case.
Following successful trials conducted in spring 2021, in collaboration with Canada’s federal regulator, Transport Canada and NAV Canada, TELUS and Dimetor are conducting new trials to evaluate how this technology could be applied for commercial and industrial use cases. As an outcome of the demonstrations, TELUS will use the results, connectivity and ground risk data collected to develop services for enterprise customers and aviation stakeholders to scale their drone operations for a greener future.
Within this trial, multiple drones will be operated simultaneously, flying at altitudes between 90 and 100 meters. The connectivity data forecast along the flights’ routes will be provided via the AirborneRF platform. To start, the drones will inspect the Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada infrastructure within a 425 km long corridor dedicated to this project. This trial will demonstrate how companies can complete more inspections in less time, further reducing their carbon footprint.
“Drones are already used by the energy industry to conduct inspections, mapping, surveying, localization and other activities. But today, one of the hottest questions is how to scale and automate. For such use cases, a network forecast is needed not only for C2 connectivity but also for the payload required to deliver such services by drones“, says Gorazd Mirkovski, Project Director at Dimetor for AirborneRF.
Samer Geissah, Director of Technology Strategy at TELUS, emphasizes the importance of this work: “Dimetor’s technology will enable exciting new opportunities to leverage the potential of 5G connected technologies like BVLOS drones for critical new uses, such as remote fire detection, evaluating flood areas and endless other possibilities. Working with Dimetor is allowing TELUS to explore how we can leverage drone technology to advance our social purpose of helping to make our planet greener and more sustainable. This work alongside Transport Canada, NAV Canada and Airborne RF from Dimetor will enable better services for our customers and faster and more efficient responses to keep our planet healthy.”
Dimetor is a software company bridging the data gap between communications service providers (CSPs) and the aviation ecosystems. Through its world-leading platform AirborneRF, they help provide supplementary data that is critical for safe BVLOS drone operations. AirborneRF focuses on (a) the 3D corridors in space that have sufficiently good connectivity for drone operations (e.g. for networked remote ID, command and control, payload communication) and (b) the population density for ground risk assessment based on anonymized cellular mobility data. Developed by experts in mobile communication networks, aviation and drone technology, AirborneRF also provides live notifications from the CSP networks in case of any issue during flight operation. Dimetor’s software has been deployed worldwide, including Australia, Europe and North America.