Parrot, Verizon and Skyward have formed an exclusive partnership to bring the first drone technology solution with 4G LTE connectivity to the United States. The innovation is scheduled to be available in the second half of 2021 with the launch of the Parrot ANAFI Ai UAV. Compact and lightweight, the Parrot ANAFI Ai is expected to make a big splash with customers primarily targeting commercial drone users.
It will be the first and only drone to connect to Verizon’s 4G LTE network, offering ultra-fast and reliable connectivity, autonomous and highly accurate photogrammetry, best-in-class imaging, a custom-designed obstacle avoidance system, open source applications, high cybersecurity and many other extras. It does all this with a weight of less than 1 kg.
Technically speaking, it looks like a security element built into the ANAFI Ai produces the 4G LTE connection between the drone and the user, and the streaming software introduced by Parrot adapts to the 4G situation and quickly optimises the resolution and frame rate for network quality. To use the solution, of course, you need access to Skyward’s subscription-based airspace and fleet management software, so you can transmit in-flight data or live video streaming at 4G speeds – without the need for a separate wireless service.
With Verizon 4G LTE connectivity enabled through Skyward to provide a seamless backup connection to the flight controller in the event of interference or interruption, this development is likely to quickly pave the way for near real-time data transmission, remote deployment and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight operations. (It should be noted that the latter use is currently legal even in the US only under a general FAA exemption, and is prohibited by law in this country). This could lead to improved applications in mapping, modelling, construction, inspections and surveys, and complex UAV missions for public safety, among others.