UPS and Verizon partner on connected drone deliveries

When it comes to 5G telecommunication network technology, there are only two extremes, and no middle ground.

Either one belongs to the extreme of conspiracy theorists, like the ones in South Africa who recently burned cell towers erected by two local telecommunications companies – on the belief that the towers were transmitting 5G network, which they believe is a COVID-19 super spreader. Although theirs might have been the first such act of technophobia against 5G in Africa, the suspected arsonists were just following a well-trodden path charted by other conspiracy theory believers in the UK, Netherlands, Ireland and Cyprus, who burned down wireless 5G cell towers in their localities for the same reason.

Or one could subscribe to the school of thought supported by American telecommunications company Verizon, whose subsidiary, Skyward, has joined forced with parcel delivery company UPS, to collaborate on efforts to test 5G network technology on the latter’s delivery drones.

The trials, will be conducted in the US state of Florida. The parties began making such trials last year, when they started testing the reliability and performance of 4G LTE network technology on airborne drones.

Carol B Tome, the UPS CEO said her organisation needed the wider broadband capabilities offered by 5G network technology to help with handle the many drones flying at the same time.

“We will need the ability to manage and support multiple drones, flying simultaneously, dispatched from a centralized location, operating in a secure and safe environment,” Tome said. “To do this at scale, alongside Verizon and Skyward, we’ll need the power of 5G.”

Having started a drone delivery race with retailer Amazon and Alphabet – both of whom are exploring drone delivery opportunities for their clients UPS has to find a competitive advantage over their competitors. The company’s drone wing, UPS Flight Forward, has completed more than 3,800 drone delivery flights since its birth in 2019, with deliveries having sky rocketed at the height of the pandemic last year, when contactless deliveries were needed.

Verizon’s Chief Strategy Officer, Rima Qureshi, agreed with Tome’s sentiments.

“We’re just beginning to see how the power of 5G Ultra Wideband will transform the way businesses operate,” he said. “By partnering with UPS and other innovative companies, we can learn from each other’s expertise and collaborate to create solutions that help move the world forward.”

The telecommunications provider joined the partnership through its subsidiary, Skyward, whose president, Mariah Scott has exulted the virtues of her company’s broadband technology in providing seamless connectivity for drones and their home base.

She said; “The low latency of 5G and edge compute is ideal for monitoring air traffic in and out of a busy logistics hub, especially those using mixed fleets of autonomous vehicles like drones, trucks, and planes. This year, we’ll be taking the collaboration with UPS further by testing 5G Ultra Wideband integrations to connect the sky.”

Delivering a speech at the virtual 2021 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) yesterday, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told his audience that 5G was the platform that made other innovations – including drone flights – possible.


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