Qualcomm Incorporated said yesterday that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI) and AT&T, will test Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones, on commercial 4G LTE networks.

The trials will analyze how UAS can operate safely and more securely on commercial 4G LTE and networks of the future, including 5G, the company said.

The research will look at elements that would impact future drone operations.

The team will look at coverage, signal, strength and mobility across network cells and how they function in flight. The goal of the trials and ongoing research is to help enable future drone operations, such as Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), as regulations evolve to permit them.

The ability to fly beyond an operator’s visual range could enable successful delivery, remote inspection and exploration. Wireless technology can bring many advantages to drones such as ubiquitous coverage, high-speed mobile support, robust security, high reliability and quality of service (QoS).

“The trial with a carrier with the reach and technology of AT&T is a significant step in the development of connectivity technologies for small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS), including optimization of LTE networks and advancement of 5G technology for drones,” said Matt Grob, executive vice president and chief technology officer, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

“Not only do we aim to analyze wide-scalable LTE optimization for safe, legal commercial SUAS use cases with beyond line-of-sight connectivity, but the results can help inform positive developments in drone regulations and 5G specifications as they pertain to wide-scale deployment of numerous drone use cases.”

The UAS trials will be based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight drone development platform, which is designed to offer superior control and navigation capabilities.