Nokia claims first CE-certified 5G automated drone-in-a-box service

Comms tech giant declares first-mover status with CE-certified turnkey drone-in-a-box offering, designed to meet the needs of public safety agencies, smart cities, construction, energy and defence organisations

Looking to meet the growing demands of organisations such as public safety agencies, smart cities, construction, energy and defence agencies, comms tech provider Nokia has revealed what it says is the first CE-certified, turnkey drone-in-a-box offering, designed to meet the safety requirements of the European Union.

The Nokia Drone Networks service connects over public and private 4G/LTE and 5G networks to enhance situational awareness for first responders and other professionals, and allow customers to benefit from optimal reliability. Nokia adds that using cellular connectivity technologies also offers higher data rates and lower latency, enabling more data to be streamed than over Wi-Fi.

The service is manufactured in Europe, and comprises Nokia drones, docking station, dual gimbal camera and edge cloud processing using Nokia MX Industrial Edge (MXIE). Introduced in February 2023, MXIE is designed to allow enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation beyond connectivity and support operational technology data applications and workloads. It is based on a Dell PowerEdge XR11 server to increase the platform’s processing power to handle demanding and complex workloads.

When used in conjunction with Nokia MXIE, data from Nokia drones can be collected and processed in real time at the edge cloud. An open API framework allows agencies and enterprises to onboard pre-integrated Nokia and third-party applications and systems, and take advantage of a growing number of public safety and Industry 4.0 use cases for drone automation, including object identification, tracking and network measurements.

Depending on the deployed configuration, Nokia drones offer more than 50 minutes of flight time and cover distances of more than 30 km due to the unique hardware architecture, integrated software innovations and 4G or 5G connectivity.

Use cases for the service include beyond visual line of sight operations with real-time kinetic positioning to improve situational awareness. Dual modem connectivity allows the Nokia technology-enabled drones to connect to multiple networks simultaneously, complying with system redundancy that is commonly required by aviation regulatory bodies.

The Nokia Drone Networks offering can be operated remotely for search and rescue activities, and to assess damage in a hazardous environment. Nokia drones can also be programmed to manage autonomous scheduled flights for applications such as additional security at large events or to manage regular remote equipment inspections. The docking station protects the drone and payload, such as the sensor devices or dual gimbal camera, from external hazards and harsh weather while it remotely charges the drone to prepare for the next flight.

Read more about drone applications

Nokia and the New York Power Authority have already demonstrated the use of the Nokia Drone Networks offering, connected over private LTE, for transmission line inspection.

“Our mission is to reshape the industrial UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] market, providing enhanced situational awareness to aid search and rescue, surveillance and other UAV operations in a wide variety of industries,” said Thomas Eder, head of embedded wireless solutions at Nokia.

“Nokia Drone Networks has been designed to comply with the remote operation requirements of aviation regulatory bodies such as EASA in Europe and FAA in the US. This will help us address growing market demands as a turnkey provider with a solution designed and produced in Europe,” he said.

“The unique feature set enabling the integration of Nokia drones with third-party applications will aid the transformation of the drones, allowing them to be used as a flying data collection platform leveraging reliable 4G and 5G edge cloud connectivity.”

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