5G has been touted as one of the key enablers for future small UAV applications. In order for small UAVs to be fully autonomous and fly beyond visual line of sight, the UAV system must be managed by a centralized command and control with a unique identifier and the capability of transmitting sensor and telemetry data with little or zero latency. As such, key features of 5G, such as high throughput, low latency, and massive machine type communications, will help to achieve full automation for small UAVs and unlock new applications and use cases.
This report assesses the impacts of 5G on the design and deployment of UAV systems. Currently, small UAVs have been deployed in asset inspection, precision agriculture, film and entertainment, and last mile delivery. ABI Research believes that construction, mining, and public safety on LTE, such as FirstNet and Emergency Services Network, will be the catalysts for 5G drone deployment. Key vendors covered in this report include DJI, Hexagon, Yuneec, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, and NEC.