Most drones rely on a direct connection to your smartphone, a physical controller or both. That puts some limits one what your drone can do and how far it can travel, but a new partnership between AT&T and Intel could change everything.
The two companies announced plans to test drones over the carrier’s LTE network this week at Mobile Congress, revealing an early model with Intel’s RealSense technology. The LTE-connected drone should be able to fly beyond your line of sight, at higher altitudes and even with some external interference.
For now the technology is more focused on the business side of the drone market, rather than consumer models. For example, Amazon’s proposed Prime Air drones could rely on an LTE network to navigate a city while delivering your package.
“AT&T and Intel will be testing how the network can enable the most exciting business use cases for drones,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president of IoT Solutions for AT&T. “Our LTE network is uniquely positioned to connect industries like delivery, agriculture, construction and insurance.”
So for now don’t expect the next drone you buy to offer an LTE connection. But in the future all drones might be able to connect directly to LTE, making the technology even more powerful as our smartphones become a little less relevant.