Nokia to test drones at Twente Airport… is that a great idea?

Nokia has announced plans to open Europe’s first drone-based Smart City traffic management test facility at Twente Airport in the Netherlands.

This 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 and other projects. While the industry has made significant strides forward in the development of UAV’s in recent years, they are still pretty far from 100% reliable. With this in mind, maybe the first test facility should have been located a bit further away from an airport.

“UAVs are rapidly becoming commonplace tools in many industries, enhancing safety, security, inspection, maintenance and many other activities,” said 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. Nokia is the only communications vendor currently building such a system and we are working with regulators to achieve the necessary standardization.”

The technology itself is underpinned by LTE and 5G development, as well as Mobile Edge Computing, the Nokia team claims, which will help to reduce latency and get closer to the reliability required for UAV traffic management. The system itself can be managed from a Nokia UTM smartphone app, working with the UAV Traffic Management interface, which will provide drone operators with real-time flight permissions, real-time no-fly zone information as well as information about local regulatory rules.

Although this is an encouraging step forward in the development of drones that could aid numerous industries including traffic management, logistics and security, there must surely have been more suitable places to give them there first flight. Maybe away from an airport, away from hundreds of planes competing for the same airspace, until the drones are a little bit more perfected. Or maybe not.

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One comment

  1. Avatar Luca Valtulina 28/09/2016 @ 10:07 am

    The Twente Airport is “currently uncontrolled and closed for scheduled passenger flights and military operations” and as far as I know only rarely used by a local private flight club. Thus not a bad choice from Nokia after all..

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