Urban air operations

KPN to demonstrate Data Service for Drone Operators at Amsterdam Drone Week

Wednesday, 10 April 2024

A year ago, during the Amsterdam Drone Week (ADW), Dutch telecommunications company KPN announced KPN Drone Connect, a dedicated service for drones. This service encompasses capabilities such as connectivity control, data exchange, and 3D mobile coverage maps. Thanks to application priority on the mobile network, it ensures that data traffic to and from drones is prioritized during network congestion. At the upcoming ADW, KPN plans to demonstrate a new capability that provides drone operators with population density data on planned flight operations to minimize operational risks for drone flights.

Han de Glint, Business Development Manager at KPN, explains that mobile operators in Europe are uniquely positioned to approximate 'people density'—a metric indicating the concentration of people in an area. "To minimize the ground risk, insight into the population density on the flight route is essential," Han stated. “In order to move the industry forward and enable drone operations in a safe way, with minimal operational risks is very important. Mobile network operators can provide such information in a digitalized way to ensure people safety, anonimity and therefore increase the safe drone operations.”

To safely operate drones, especially in scenarios not covered by a Standard Scenario (STS) or a Pre-Defined Risk Assessment (PDRA), operators are mandated to conduct a risk assessment, identify mitigation measures, and adhere to safety objectives. The Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) methodology is designed for this purpose and will include people density classes soon. Han further mentioned: “We’re excited to start trials with providing risk class indication. Coming period we intend to validate the value and reliability of the data based on operational flights and expect this will contribute to safe drone operations eventually.”

The value of the mobile network

KPN has been a long-standing contributor to the burgeoning Dutch drone industry, recognizing early on that traditional radio connections between drone pilots and their drones could eventually be replaced by mobile data connections. This transition opens up possibilities for long-distance drone flights where the pilot cannot maintain direct visual line of sight (BVLOS).

For this reason, KPN has been member and co-founder of the Dutch Drone Delta from the beginning, a coalition dedicated to exploring and testing innovative drone applications. In the future, KPN aims to provide the necessary wireless connectivity to parties in need.

KPN Drone Connect offers users more than just connectivity for control, data exchange, and positioning. It ensures flight safety and efficiency, particularly during critical processes or emergency services during disasters, thanks to 5G technology, which keeps drone mobile connectivity a priority even during peak network times.

Quick and stable

Han de Glint emphasizes that while current technologies like 4G offer sufficient support, 5G will introduce a new level of reliability and capacity. "This is particularly relevant in scenarios where a quick and stable connection is critical for long-distance flights or managing large numbers of drones simultaneously," he said.

As KPN gears up to reveal its latest innovation at the Amsterdam Drone Week, the focus on safety, efficiency, and the use of advanced 5G technology positions the company at the forefront of the drone industry's future.

Han de Glint will speak about People Density on day 2 of ADW: on April 17 from 11:30-12:00 on the Headwind Stage.


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