Vodafone has started testing a traffic control drone tracking and safety system. The company said that the groundbreaking technology uses 4G and IoT to protect aircraft from accidents and to prevent inadvertent or criminal drone incursions at sensitive locations such as airports, prisons and hospitals. Vodafone added that the new technology supports the objectives of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is currently developing new pan-European rules to regulate the operation of drones. The company hopes to bring the system out next year.

The tracking and safety system uses Radio Positioning System (RPS), with a 4G modem and Sim embedded within each drone to enable real time tracking, beyond line-of-sight control by operator, protective geofencing (drones automatically returning to operator when approaching predetermined exclusion zones such as airports and prisons), emergency remote control intervention to enable authorities to override to alter the drone’s flight path or to force it to land, and Sim-based e-identification and owner registration.

The Vodafone RPS is combined with artificial intelligence algorithms, also developed by the company, so that very large numbers of drones can be tracked and controlled remotely. Vodafone has placed its RPS research and associated intellectual property in the public domain with no licensing fees for re-use in order to accelerate the pace of drone safety and geolocation innovation worldwide.

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