5G is being lauded as a miracle tech at the moment, promising a great many things like superior mobile broadband and massive improvements to IoT tech. Add one more thing to the list, because uVue has now successfully carried out drone flights remotely controlled via a 5G connection.
In collaboration with BT, uVue managed to perform over 100 test flights using a dedicated 'network slice' of a pre-5G network. Pre-5G isn't the exact same thing as a bonafide 5G network, but it's a big step up from the 4G/LTE we as consumers are currently used to.
The test flights took place between 12th and 16th June, in front of 3,000 attendees, and proved that drones could be controlled solely by mobile networks alone. The tests offered low-latency controls from stick to propeller, and remotely streamed back video footage without any discernible lag. There was a traditional radio-based back-up control system on hand just in case, but according to uVue it was never actually needed.
For consumer drone buyers this might not seem like a big deal, but the idea behind the testing was to prove that sections of the 5G network could be 'protected' and would therefore keep functioning when the rest of the network is overloaded. That has massive implications for commercial drone use, particularly with things like drone-powered home delivery. Since the test pilot was in control of the drone at all times, it means that even if there is a surge in network activity there are far less likely to be accidents involving out-of-control drones.
uVue has a video of one of the test flights over on YouTube, but it doesn't actually show much. It's just a vertically-filmed video of a drone taking of, moving around a little bit, and landing again.