Samsung has developed a new automated drone-based antenna configuration measurement solution for 4G and 5G networks, which provides a simplified way to efficiently manage cell sites, improve operator safety, and optimize network performance. The solution has been trialled on the company’s campus.
Cellular antennas are typically installed at significant heights on sites such as cell towers or rooftops, in order to ensure optimal mobile coverage. Field engineers usually must climb the sites with heavy equipment in order to measure the antenna configurations. The new drone-based solution will enhance safety and reduce risks for Samsung’s employees.
During the trial, an engineer on the ground used a smartphone to remotely control a camera-equipped drone that captured photos of the antennas installed on a building’s rooftop. The visual data was viewable via the smartphone in real time and was also transmitted to a cloud server within seconds. The deep learning-based artificial intelligence (AI) solution instantly verified the rotation and tilt of the antennas, so that the engineers could determine if the antennas were installed correctly at predefined optimal angles.
The demonstration verified that Samsung’s solution can accomplish the entire inspection task, from drone takeoff to results delivery, within 15 minutes. Traditional inspection methods can take several hours, as a tower climber must prepare, climb up and down a cell tower, and measure antenna configurations. Samsung will continue to upgrade the solution with additional features, such as the ability to remotely adjust the antenna tilts to its optimal position from a mobile device and PC.
The solution’s safety benefits will be especially helpful during site audit and maintenance in the U.S., which often requires two field personnel to be dispatched to a site to audit or adjust the antenna angles, and requires climbs that use more advanced safety training.
Sohyong Chong, Vice President and Head of Network Automation, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics, commented: “As the number of 5G network sites grows, there has been a heightened focus on network performance by operators, and we are seeing an increased market demand for intelligent solutions for site maintenance. Once this solution launches globally later this year, it will offer a safer, more cost-effective and convenient way to satisfy market demands, leveraging our unique capabilities in combining the latest technologies—drones, AI and 5G.”