Operators M1 and Singtel are collaborating with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore and others for separate research projects involving 4.5G drones, AI, data analytics, robotics and IoT.
M1 announced Thursday that it has conducted successful trials with NTU Singapore using M1’s 4.5G hetnet to provide command, control and communication capabilities for safe drone operations.
The trial involved a purpose-built unmanned aircraft system (UAS) assembled by the Air Traffic Management Research Institute (ATMRI), a joint research centre by NTU Singapore and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). The drone was flown around M1’s premises at International Business Park, as well as two fields in Wan Shih Road and Old Holland Road, whilst connected to the 4.5G network.
Conventional drone operations use unlicensed spectrum such as 2.4 GHz to provide short range line-of-sight wireless connectivity, but it is susceptible to radio signal interference. In contrast, says M1, 4.5G provides secured, low latency and high throughput mobile connectivity, enabling drones to fly beyond visual range in an urban environment.
In addition, drones could send real-time data and telemetry feeds during flight as the network can monitor their aerial locations, which could enable a dynamic and robust fleet traffic management solution required for the smart utilization of Singapore’s urban airspace and its surrounding sea-to-shore coverage.
To further the collaboration, M1 and ATMRI signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Thursday to research and develop M1’s 4.5G hetnet for UAS traffic management of UAS in Singapore’s urban environment. M1 says the findings from the research could provide valuable insight for unmanned operations using future 5G networks.
Together with engineers from M1, NTU researchers will map out the signal strengths and end-to-end latency of M1’s HetNet for Singapore’s entire urban airspace using drones, up to 130 meters altitude. This will help researchers to identify suitable airspace for reliable command and control of drones, including flights out of visual range.
The joint project is expected to last three years.
Singtel, NTU and A*STAR create R&D lab
Earlier this week, Singtel signed agreements with NTU Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) to spearhead R&D efforts in emerging technologies.
Under a five-year partnership, Singtel, NTU Singapore and the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF Singapore) will establish a S$42.4 million ($31.4 million) corporate lab, to be called Singtel Cognitive and Artificial Intelligence Lab for Enterprises (SCALE@NTU), to develop applications for use in the areas of public safety, smart urban solutions, transportation, healthcare and manufacturing. The partners aim to accelerate innovation in the fields of AI, advanced data analytics, robotics and smart computing.
The research by SCALE@NTU aims to resolve various challenges faced by cities in keeping their infrastructure facilities in tip top running condition. With the use of smart sensors embedded with AI, city governments could analyze data from infrastructure facilities and decide to conduct maintenance works only when necessary to achieve optimal performance for these assets. That would help cut operating costs for cities that currently spend significant amounts on routine maintenance, whilst not compromising on infrastructure quality and performance standards, Singtel said.
Singtel said the partnership is expected to expand its product range, as well as that of its regional ICT subsidiary NCS, over the next five years.
Meanwhile, Singtel and A*STAR will work together on projects including smart building automation systems, robotics and IoT applications that could help boost operating efficiencies in various industries. Robots can be deployed to handle biohazardous waste, allowing companies to deploy their employees to undertake higher value-added jobs. Such technologies will be tested on Singtel’s NB-IoT and 5G network in a model factory to be set up by A*STAR next year.