AT&T Combines UAS Footage with Artificial Intelligence

2017-05-05

AT&T Combines UAS Footage with Artificial Intelligence
The research unit at AT&T is working to combine two of what are perhaps the hottest buzzwords in the tech industry: drones and artificial intelligence. Specifically, AT&T Labs is researching ways to take video footage from a drone flying around an AT&T cell tower and use AI to analyze that footage for signs of rust, corrosion or other defects on the tower.

The result would save AT&T the time and money it takes to have engineers physically climb cell towers to do inspections (thanks to the drone), as well as the time and money it takes to have engineers review video from a drone inspecting a tower (thanks to the artificial intelligence).

“We are leveraging over 130 AT&T patents and 20 years of video analytics and machine research,” explained Art Pregler, the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) program director at AT&T. We are using algorithms … the algorithm can learn what it is that it’s looking at and take appropriate actions.

Pregler said that AT&Ts Labs team used 6,000 videos and more than 1 million cell tower photos to create its tower-inspection algorithm. Were teaching it to identify over 200 types of elements on a cell tower, he said of the system. Its able to identify equipment. The next step that were currently working on is to train the algorithm to identify defects.

And, if the system identifies errors, then the drone can dispatch a crew or whatever action is needed to the tower.

Pregler explained that AT&T Labs work into AI and drones is in its very early stages, but—if it is commercializedcould eventually result in some significant cost savings.

Pregler likely will provide additional details on AT&Ts drone efforts at the upcoming Xponential show, May 8-11 in Dallas.

To be clear, tower inspection isnt the only project on Preglers plate at AT&T. He said the carrier is currently working on a prototype helicopter drone.

We are continuing to evolve our flying COW [cell on wings] initiative, Pregler said.

Preglers drone team has been looking at ways to use drones to provide cell coverage in areas where the carrier doesnt currently offer service, or where it needs to provide extra coverage. AT&T currently deploys COWs (cell sites on wheels) or COLTs (cell towers on light trucks) into such situations. COWs and COLTs typically use vans or large trucks to erect a temporary tower between 15 and 55 feet tall. The vehicles then backhaul the resulting cell traffic through a satellite, microwave or Ethernet link.

However, in places that COWs or COLTs cant access, Preglers team at AT&T is researching whether drones might work. And in Preglers latest batch of tests, the carrier moved beyond the typical briefcase-sized, quad-rotor drone to test a system that looks more like a mini-helicopter. Pregler said AT&Ts helicopter drone sports a main rotor with three, two-foot-long blades that can lift 35 pounds (far more than the 10 pounds that can be lifted by a standard drone). Pregler said the helicopter drone can rise to 400 feet and can carry three radios, each of which can provide service to 4,000 people (though he noted the system currently only supports 8,000 people due to FCC regulations).

AT&Ts helicopter drone also carries a long tether cable that connects it to a box on the ground. The box supplies the drone with power and a fiber connection, and cell traffic collected by the drone can be backhauled through the ground boxs satellite, microwave or Ethernet connection.

Were thinking these platforms can support first responders, disaster recovery, Pregler said of the helicopter drone. Because its higher than the ground towers, it can reach further.

A possible use of AT&Ts helicopter drone would be to provide communications along the battle line of a wildfire, because such locations are often inaccessible by vehicle and may move around.

Pregler said AT&T plans to continue testing its helicopter drone and other drone applications.



Category:  UAV


Raytheon Further Develops Multi-Mission Coyote UAS

2017-06-21
Raytheon Further Develops Multi-Mission Coyote UAS
Raytheon is developing a “Block 2” update of the Coyote tube-launched unmanned aircraft system (UAS) it acquired more than two years ago. The aim is to produce a low-cost, multi-mission-capable air vehicle that users will ultimately dispose of once it completes a mission.

Elbit Systems Reveals Airborne WAPS Solution at Paris Airshow

2017-06-16
Elbit Systems Reveals Airborne WAPS Solution at Paris Airshow
Elbit Systems will reveal at the 2017 Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, taking place this week, an innovative wide area persistent surveillance solution – SkEye WAPS.

Delair-Tech Sets A New UAS BVLOS Distance Record

2017-06-13
Delair-Tech Sets A New UAS BVLOS Distance Record
RTE and Delair-Tech set a new distance record when they flew a civilian drone 30 miles (50 kilometers). The official purpose of the flight, which took place in France, was to inspect by remote camera RTE’s power lines as well as recording data that would allow it to build models of its European power grid.

New Investment Fund to Create Team Drone Japan

2017-06-01
New Investment Fund to Create Team Drone Japan
Japan’s first investment fund focusing on drone-related startups begins operation in June, offering financial assistance and business management advice for budding entrepreneurs.

Taiwans Surveillance Drone Still in Pilot Project Phase

2017-06-01
Taiwans Surveillance Drone Still in Pilot Project Phase
Military officials announced Tengyun (騰雲機), a heavy drone designed for surveillance purposes, developed by Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology’s (CIST) was still in the pilot project phase, and was uncertain of the date of for the projects completion.

Drone Aviation Launches Tether System for sUAS

2017-05-30
Drone Aviation Launches Tether System for sUAS
Tethered drone manufacturer Drone Aviation Holding Corp. (DAC) has rolled out FUSE, a tethering system designed for DJI Inspire unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

MQ-9B Skyguardian Remains Airborne for Over 48 Hours Non-Stop

2017-05-30
MQ-9B Skyguardian Remains Airborne for Over 48 Hours Non-Stop
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) has announced that its new MQ-9B SkyGuardianTM Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) system, a “Certifiable” (STANAG 4671) version of its Predator B product line, has set a company record with the longest endurance flight of any Predator-series aircraft.

Russia to Create Drone Flight Management System

2017-05-26
Russia to Create Drone Flight Management System
Russia will create a system to control flights of small unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including small quadcopters, Mikhail Kirechko, the chief constructor of the system, developed by the Russian Space Systems holding, which belongs to the state-run Roscosmos space corporation, told Sputnik in an interview.

Ship Agency to use Drones for Ship Deliveries

2017-05-26
Ship Agency to use Drones for Ship Deliveries
Wilhelmsen Ships Service (WSS) is launching a pilot program to study the use of unmanned aircraft systems for delivering supplies to ocean vessels.

US Air Force Research Lab to Extend Aircraft ISR Range

2017-05-23
US Air Force Research Lab to Extend Aircraft ISR Range
The US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is developing a tube-launched unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that can be deployed from an AC-130 gunship, or similar aircraft, and provide video that will rival that provided by its own sensors.


Back to the list