LTE Technology & Communications for Drones, UAV, USV, UGV,

Find LTE Technology manufacturers and suppliers of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) communications, 4G & 5G for control and tracking of drones, UAV, USV, UGV & robotics
Overview LTE Technology & Communications for Drones, UAV, USV, UGV,
By Technology Editor Last updated: May 5th, 2022

4G LTE & 5G Communications for Drones & UAV

Drone LTE communications

Elsight’s Halo UAV LTE Communications System

LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and 5G, also known collectively as cellular or mobile communications, are wireless broadband standards that are used in a variety of communications technologies. 5G works on a different spectrum to 4G LTE, and delivers faster speeds and lower latency but requires a higher density of cellular towers.

Wireless communications are essential for drone command and control, as well as telemetry and payload data transfer. Many drone controllers that work using Wi-Fi or other radio-frequency (RF) communications are limited in range. While SATCOM drone communications work almost anywhere on the planet, the equipment can be bulky and suitable only for larger drone platforms.

LTE Networking for drones

SkyHopper by Mobilicom’s SkyHopperCOMBO – LTE networking for Drones & Robotics

Cellular Drone Communications

Cellular drone communications have the potential to be the best of both worlds, as coverage in many areas is excellent and 4G/5G modems are relatively light and impact minimally upon the SWaP (size, weight and power) budget of many drones.

LTE Drone Tracking & Control

Drone control system with 4G communication

Botlink’s XRD2 4G LTE drone control for BVLOS operations

Drone LTE communications may enable BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) operations and deliver the long-range and high data throughput requirements of many drone applications.

Potential use cases that may benefit from LTE connectivity include cargo delivery, precision agriculture, infrastructure inspection and public safety.

LTE Technology

Aerobits’ All-in-one LTE/GNSS/ADS­B/FLARM ground station

Potential issues with cellular drone communications include sparse coverage, particularly outside of urban areas, and instability as drones transfer from one network to another. Both uplink and downlink interference may also be a problem, due to drones being visible by multiple network cells due to their elevation. This problem could be mitigated with the use of steerable beamforming drone antennas that track the serving cell.

UAV connectivity solutions are available that take multiple SIM cards and can aggregate multiple connections from different providers into a single robust link. These systems may dynamically balance communications traffic among the different connections, optimizing for the needs of the drone according to varying network conditions.