T-Mobile’s network connects window-cleaning drones

T-Mobile for Business will provide the 4G LTE connectivity for Lucid Drone Technologies’ fleet of industrial drones, which do window cleaning.

Lucid Drone Technologies’ industrial spraying drones perform exterior washing for commercial building surfaces and windows.

Property management companies that are responsible for window cleaning have traditionally used maintenance teams to wash exterior windows. But this can be highly dangerous work on tall buildings. Drones can make the work safe and also reduce insurance and equipment costs.

Initially, T-Mobile for Business will deliver 4G LTE connectivity to Lucid Drone to facilitate real-time sharing of flight data, battery utilization information, hardware diagnostics and delivery of firmware and software updates.

The service is part of T-Mobile’s IoT platform, which also provides automation and provisioning capabilities.

T-Mobile’s Control Center will give Lucid Drone the ability to view and manage the connectivity of their industrial spraying drones in near real-time.

The companies also plan to leverage T-Mobile's 5G network in the future to fly drones beyond line-of-sight and power more data-intensive capabilities like video streaming.

Verizon trials drone technology

Verizon is also working with drones. The carrier has a 5G lab at Caltech, which it’s using to innovate on 5G use cases with university students and faculty.

One of the trials it’s conducting at Caltec aims to help drones detect and respond to changing weather conditions in real time.

To recreate the ever-shifting environmental conditions that drones face in the real world, the lab features a three-story-tall aerodrome with more than 2,500 tiny computer-controlled fans. The fan wall allows engineers to simulate everything from a light gust to a gale. It can also be tilted 90 degrees to simulate vertical take offs and landings. The custom fan wall was designed and built by Caltech graduate students.

5G allows the drones to communicate. “In a captive environment you can use Wi-Fi,” said Nicki Palmer, chief product development officer at Verizon, in a February conversation with Fierce. “But out in the wild you need a relatively big network, that’s where 5G comes in. Drones work today on our 4G network.”

She said the lower latency and high speeds of 5G allow drones to send and receive information to an edge compute system and not have the processing done on the drone itself.