Nokia has announced its support for what it says is Europe’s first dedicated testing facility for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for traffic management.
The facility, located at Twente Airport (near Enschede in the Netherlands), will enable Nokia to develop and trial its UAV traffic management (UTM) system for the use of drones in proximity of urban areas, people, manned aircraft, other drones and other objects.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed with the Municipality of Enschede, the Province of Overijssel, Unmanned Systems Center B.V. and Area Development Twente, Nokia will design and deliver infrastructure to test and develop the Nokia UTM system at Twente Airport through real-life simulations and commercial demonstrations.
Nokia says its UTM solution will provide flight automation, no-fly-zone control and beyond-visual-line-of-sight capabilities that will be vital for the safe operation of UAVs in densely populated cities, as well as remote rural areas.
Nokia says its technology is underpinned by a combination of LTE and 5G development, a well as Mobile Edge Computing, to ensure the extreme low-latency and ultra reliability required for UAV traffic management.
Drones equipped with Nokia’s UTM modem (comprising an LTE modem, GPS transceiver and other telemetry modules), combined with the Nokia AirFrame platform, monitor airspace and flight paths. They can also handle the exchange of telemetry data, as well as establish no-flight zones.
A Nokia UTM smartphone app, working with the UTM interface, provides drone operators with real-time flight permissions, real-time no-fly-zone information and information about local regulatory rules.
The platform can also be adapted to the individual regulatory requirements of different countries – potentially providing the basis for global standardization of such systems, says Nokia.
During an opening day event of Space 53, the test area at Twente Airport, visitors will be able to see a range of demonstrations of UAV uses in agriculture, search and rescue, public safety, and airport anti-bird protection.
“UAVs are rapidly becoming commonplace tools in many industries – enhancing safety, security, inspection, maintenance and many other activities,” explains Thorsten Robrecht, head of advanced mobile networks solutions at Nokia. “However, it is critical that they function faultlessly and safely in complex, real-world environments. This requires more than just a smart drone but a system of intelligent traffic control that is thoroughly tested and fully developed.”
Onno van Veldhuizen, mayor of Enschede, adds, “Space53 is a unique concept, which in turn is a necessity for the all the major players in the drone, autonomous, and unmanned systems sector. A test center like Space53 will be required for the growth of this sector – not just here in the Netherlands but worldwide. Nokia joining us proves the point, and we’re very pleased with their involvement as a technology partner.”
In May, Nokia launched its Ultra Compact Network, a rapidly deployable 4G solution that can be carried by a drone to provide connectivity at high-traffic events and remote areas or when a macro network is compromised in an emergency situation.