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Qualcomm launches a 5G drone platform

US mobile chip giant Qualcomm has made its bid to dominate drones as it already does smartphones with the launch of the Flight Platform.

One of the ways Qualcomm has managed to maintain its pre-eminence in the mobile space is through the regular production of reference platforms, which do a lot of the technical heavy lifting for device-makers, allowing them to focus on integration and customisation. The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform seems to be an attempt to do the same for drones.

All this is done in order to flog more chips, in this case the QRB5165 processor, which is optimised for droney stuff by combining a bunch of relevant tech in one system. You would imagine a number of disparate technologies are involved in making a drone work well, not least a robust wireless connection. On top of that there’s a fair bit of computing end sensing involved, especially as they get more autonomous, and there will presumably be things like lasers and robotic claws before long.

“We are proud to continue our momentum of enabling the digital transformation of global industries by unveiling the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform, a solution that is purpose-built for drone development with enhanced autonomy and intelligence features, bringing premium connected flight capabilities to industrial, enterprise and commercial segments,” said Dev Singh, General Manager of autonomous robotics, drones and intelligent machines at Qualcomm.

Verizon has got involved in the network testing of this platform and seems to think its mmWave investments might play a part. Presumably they have better range in the sky than they do on land. Intriguingly China Unicom also got a shout-out in the Qualcomm press release.

“As one of our important collaborators, Qualcomm Technologies has been working with China Unicom to drive integration of 5G and IoT into vertical use cases and provide products such as 5G modules and 5G industrial gateways for automation and robotics use cases, with focused areas including industrial equipment, iron and steel manufacturing, transportation and port, mining and energy, and healthcare,” said Li Kai, Chief Product Officer, IoT division, China Unicom.

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