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


Intel Launches Aerial Data Analytics Platform

2017-09-11
Intel Launches Aerial Data Analytics Platform
The newly announced Intel Insight Platform is a cloud-based data processing, analytics and reporting service that allows customers to store, share, and manage the rich data that commercial drone systems provide.

AUDS Counter-Drone System Enhanced for Vehicle Deployment and to Defeat Swarm Attacks

2017-09-11
AUDS Counter-Drone System Enhanced for Vehicle Deployment and to Defeat Swarm Attacks
The AUDS counter-UAS defence system has been enhanced for deployment on military and commercial security and surveillance vehicles and with new technology to more effectively defeat swarm attacks by malicious unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), including long-range winged drones.

Disguised Drones Boost Wildlife Management

2017-09-04
Disguised Drones Boost Wildlife Management
Wildlife management is getting a little more scientific. Saxon Remote Systems, a manufacturer of unmanned aerial systems in McPherson, is flying into the market with technology to make current wildlife management methods easier and more precise.

New Russian Anti-Drone Gun on Display

2017-09-04
New Russian Anti-Drone Gun on Display
For the first time in Russia, Kalashnikov Concern – the largest arms manufacturer in the country showed off its electromagnetic anti-drone rifles at the Army-2017 expo in the Moscow Region.

Microsoft Tests Self-Flying Gliders in Rural Nevada

2017-08-22
Microsoft Tests Self-Flying Gliders in Rural Nevada
Microsoft is already thinking about self-flying airplanes. The tech giant tested such technology in Hawthorne, 130 miles south of Reno, last week with the help of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems.

RADA Gets $8M US Military Counter-UAS Contract

2017-08-22
RADA Gets $8M US Military Counter-UAS Contract
RADA Electronic Industries Ltd. has announced it had received a strategic first order for dozens of Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radars (MHR) from the US Military. Totalling over $8 million, this order will be delivered during 2017.

Peruvian Air Force Develops Two New Drones

2017-08-14
Peruvian Air Force Develops Two New Drones
The Peruvian Air Force’s (FAP, per its Spanish acronym) Project Research and Investigation Center (CIDEP, per its Spanish acronym) was created in 1993 to develop flight simulators for Cessna A-37 aircraft.

US Navy Wants Drones and AI to Repair Airfields Fast

2017-08-14
US Navy Wants Drones and AI to Repair Airfields Fast
The U.S. Navy is looking for a drone that can fly over a damaged airfield and come up with a plan to get planes back in the air quickly, the head of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command said Tuesday.

China to Use CH-T4 Solar Drone as Quasi-Satellite and Wi-Fi Hub

2017-07-28
China to Use CH-T4 Solar Drone as Quasi-Satellite and Wi-Fi Hub
China is developing an airborne mobile Wi-Fi hub in near space with solar-powered drones. The Feiyun (“Flying Cloud”) project is able to secure emergency communication for more than one week and proof of concept is expected to be demonstrated before the end of year.

Mobile Skylight  Mobile Drone Security and UTM

2017-07-28
Mobile Skylight Mobile Drone Security and UTM
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Gryphon Sensors, a SRC Inc. company based in Central New York, has developed a state-of-the-art mobile Unmanned Traffic Management system called Mobile Skylight. The development builds on the state’s investments in the regions emerging Unmanned Aerial Systems industry.


Back to the list