KPN introduces 'Drone Connect' for safe drone flights

Commercial drone application in the Netherlands another step closer

KPN will showcase a new service at Amsterdam Drone Week 2023 that brings commercial drone application in the Netherlands another step closer. Using “Drone Connect”, drones can be connected to KPN’s mobile 5G network and operators can select the right flight route via the route planner for an efficient and safe drone flight with the best mobile coverage. And thanks to “application priority”, drones can be given network priority to ensure wireless control, positioning, communication and data exchange.

KPN will demonstrate this new service to the public at Amsterdam Drone Week (ADW). The global ecosystem will convene for several days at this event to observe, hear about and discuss the future of unmanned aviation and the opportunities for commercial application. Jacob Groote, responsible for innovation and partnerships at KPN: “Drone Connect will allow us to take commercial drone applications in the Netherlands one step further so that, in due course, we can fly from A to B safely and in a controlled manner. It features a total package of connectivity and network priority so that control and real-time data exchange of camera images, positioning and ground and aerial risk insight, for example, are guaranteed. We also offer a route planner for the safest and most efficient escape route with the best mobile coverage.”

Extraordinarily reliable
Besides connectivity for control, data exchange and positioning, Drone Connect gives users additional assurances that the flight can be completed safely and efficiently. Thanks to 5G technology, KPN can ensure that priority is given to mobile connectivity of the drone, even if the network gets busier. This offers a solution for drone application in critical processes or for use by emergency services during emergencies, for example.

Route planner
KPN has also developed a route planner for drones. Because drones will be flying at altitude, it is important to know what the coverage is like in the air. The route planner provides information about the quality of the network coverage on the expected flight path. It allows the flight to be prepared and adapted in line with the need for connectivity. This is extremely important, as a drone must remain controllable at all times, especially when the drone is piloted out of line of sight, which is also known as “BVLOS” (beyond visual line of sight).

Drone applications
Drones will likely play an important societal role in the future. Examples include the use of fewer pesticides in potato cultivation, package delivery to ships, urgent transport of blood, medicine and other medical supplies or as an extra pair of eyes to detect drowning persons at sea. LVNL (Dutch Air Traffic Control), ANWB, and KPN have recently joined forces to work towards this common goal – to enable drones and manned aircraft to fly safely through the skies. The “Drone Connect” service will also be used for this purpose. 

Despite the sharp increase in the number of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, there is still no regulation and control of the airspace for this. Legislative and regulatory steps crucial to enabling commercial drones are therefore also underway. This topic is high on the agenda at Amsterdam Drone Week.