Scottish demonstration uses drone-mounted 5G basestation for search and rescue

A demonstration in Scotland showed how a drone-mounted pop-up 5G basestation can be used to transmit video footage during search-and-rescue operations.

Tereza Krásová, Associate Editor

May 17, 2024

2 Min Read
A drone on the ground with people in the background.
(Source: JET Connectivity)

5G may not have brought on the plethora of new use cases operators hoped for, but it has opened some new applications, including those that serve a higher purpose. Quite literally, in the case of a demonstration that took place this week in Scotland, where a pop-up 5G network was put on a drone for use in search-and-rescue missions.

The solution, which was funded by the Tay Cities Region Deal, relies on JET Connectivity's pop-up 5G basestation that can be put on a drone to create a self-deploying 5G network, also described as a moving bubble of connectivity.

One or more drones can be deployed to search across a wide area, with the 5G network making it possible to stream video and infrared footage to a controller. The basestation can also be deployed remotely on the ground to provide fixed coverage.

This solution may save time and money compared to conventional search-and-rescue techniques, which require a helicopter to be deployed or rely on teams hiking to the area. These approaches are either too expensive or time-consuming for an emergency situation.

The demo

The project has been funded by the Scottish government through the Tay Cities Region Deal. Also involved were drone firm DTLX and the Edinburgh Drone Company.

In prepared comments, Kirsty Scott, senior business engagement manager at The Scotland 5G Centre said: "The Centre is excited to contribute technically to support this project, and also arrange access to our 5G test bed."

The demonstration took place near Tarfside in Angus and concluded a research and development pathfinder project conducted under the Tay Cities Region Deal. Another demonstration of the technology will follow in June. It will focus on using the pop-up network offshore with a beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone for remote surveying, inspections and maintenance, in order to increase the safety of offshore workers.

The project is not the first to use 5G for search and rescue. Last year, Virgin Media O2 partnered with Warwickshire Search and Rescue, which specializes in searching for vulnerable missing persons in the English county, to place a 5G basestation on a drone to aid operations. The solution relied on low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites for connectivity.

Telenor, meanwhile, demonstrated the use of a standalone private network on wheels to provide first responders with better situational awareness using AI-processed video from 5G-powered drones in 2022.

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About the Author(s)

Tereza Krásová

Associate Editor, Light Reading

Associate Editor, Light Reading

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