Qualcomm Seeks To Use Cell Towers To Eliminate FAA’s “Visual Line Of Sight” Drone Rule
” One of the main hurdles to drones’ ability to zip around the country delivering packages is a requirement that they stay within their operator’s line of sight during daylight hours. Qualcomm Inc. is working on a solution that’s been right before our eyes: cellphone networks.
The rules from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration exist to help prevent accidents with commercial aircraft and mitigate the risk that drones could get out of control in areas where it’s not safe for them to go. By tapping into the networks of towers that connect phones to each other and to the internet, drone operators would be able to track and maneuver them even when they aren’t visible.”
” Qualcomm, the largest maker of chips for mobile phones, has been testing its idea from the helipad on the roof of its San Diego headquarters. The location, the company says, is ideal because it’s inside airspace controlled by the nearby Miramar Marine Corps. Air Station and is regularly overflown by military aircraft. That provides lots of opportunity to prove the drones can operate safely in restricted airspace, go out of sight behind buildings and not get sucked up in the engines of an F-18.
Just like call signs used by the supersonic fighter aircraft that blast by, the drone has its own name, “Qualcomm 1,” and has to check in with Miramar control tower before taking to the skies. Qualcomm 1 is connected to the cellular networks and has so far done more than 550 flights in that congested area of “Top Gun” fame, gathering data in hopes of persuading regulators that drones can be safe on their own.”