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5G connected tethered drone able to support emergency services

Virgin Media O2 has conducted a first of its kind trial in the UK with Fotokite, a developer of actively tethered drones, that could allow emergency services to assess situations more easily.

The drone allows users to quickly send a tethered drone up to 45 meters above a situation, but can also be used by teams based in other locations connected by a 5G network.

The trial, at Millbrook Proving Ground, was intended to help develop a greater understanding of how 5G connectivity can be used to aid emergency services at trauma scenes, and remote or difficult to reach locations.

The tethered Fotokite Sigma system has been successfully tested to receive 5G network connectivity from its base station on the ground and to transfer real-time data to first responders at the location and local hospital teams via a smart tablet.

Its ultra-reliable low latency, uninterrupted aerial monitoring, and quick set up time of 2 minutes (approximately 13 minutes faster than any traditional drones) ensures that no time is lost in conducting situational analysis of a scene, potentially saving lives.

“The use of drones for emergency responders is an increasingly valuable tool, as the rising number of applications and lower flying complexity make it quick and easy to manage. The Fotokite drone has both thermal imaging and RGB video camera capabilities, as well as the ability to fly for extended times in all weather conditions, providing crucial situational information and data for emergency teams. Being able to stream live feeds via a 5G network from the operational ‘hot zone’ of a major incident back to offsite strategic teams enables instant feedback and decision-making that could save lives," said Martin Hunt, 5G Technology Programme Manager at Virgin Media O2.

Available in three separate configurations, including a rooftop box, transport case and tray mount, the Fotokite can operate reliably in very harsh conditions, whilst remaining elevated for as long as the mission requires. The technology is activated with just one button to launch and the same to land – straightforward to operate and can be flown with an A2 Certificate of Competence passed online, making it accessible to many in the UK.

Neil Tyler

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