On March 23, 2023, Vodafone and Dimetor will launch DroNet, the industry’s first digital data service to risk check commercial drone flights.
According to a joint company statement, operators and licensing authorities can use Vodafone’s drone service via a digital interface to assess the ground and connectivity risk with the help of anonymized movement data from the mobile network.
“DroNet thus provides answers to the questions: How many people are below the flight path? And how stable is the mobile phone connection between pilot and drone? This is intended to speed up the approval process and make drone flights safer.”
According to the Association of Unmanned Aviation, there could be 450,000 drones flying in Germany’s airspace by 2025.
“Flights with the greatest efficiency potential for commercial use – i.e. flights over longer distances and thus out of sight of the pilot, often automated or even autonomous – are among the flights that require approval,” says an accompanying press release. “In the case of such an approval, two criteria in particular are checked to assess the risk: how many people are below the defined flight route? Is the mobile phone connectivity on the defined flight route sufficient and without interruptions?
“It currently takes several weeks for such an approval process to be completed with the answers to these questions. Not least because providing and checking the answers has so far been very time-consuming.”
“We want to help speed up the approval process for drone flights in Germany,” says Michael Reinartz, Head of Innovation at Vodafone Germany. “This is exactly where we come in with our new and industry-wide unique solution. With our digital data service DroNet, we deliver mobile phone data that can be used to answer the question of ground risk faster and more securely than ever before”.
The digital service can be booked with Vodafone from March 23, 2023, regardless of whether the applicant is a drone operator or another stakeholder. “The anonymized real-time data can be accessed via a digital interface and analyzed individually for the planned flight route,” say programme managers. “Two criteria in particular are scrutinized: How strong and complete is the Vodafone mobile phone coverage – i.e. how safe is the ability to control the drone, even over long distances. And how many Vodafone SIM cards are dialled into the mobile network below the flight route – i.e. how many people are in this vicinity. These answers are available for route planning with just a few clicks.
“Safety is the top priority in aviation,” said Thomas Neubauer, CEO and co-founder of Vodafone UPLIFT partner Dimetor.” In order to be able to meet this requirement, the drone management systems need precise, up-to-date and meaningful data – both with regard to connectivity in the airspace and for the assessment of the ground risk. Mobile networks have this information and thus make a significant contribution to the safety, plannability and risk minimization of drone flights,”
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