Ericsson, AERPAW Collaborate on 5G Drones for Smart Ag

Smart Farm

Ericsson and the Aerial Experimentation and Research Platform for Advanced Wireless (AERPAW) are working together to attempt to advance the use of 5G for drone operations in support of smart agriculture.

AERPAW is funded by the National Science Foundation and a consortium of industry partners and is part of the part of the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program.

Drones for Smart Ag

The demonstration used a custom drone with a connected camera and local compute capacity to monitor a field of cattle for grazing pattern data. Footage was streamed over a 5G connection, using an Ericsson base station and Ericsson Cloud Packet Core network. The communication used mid-band spectrum (3.4 GHz), applying 100 MHz of spectrum under AERPAW’s experimental program license.

The demonstration recorded speeds surpassing 100 Mbps in the uplink and more than 450 Mbps in the downlink.  The 5G network has the ability to sustain high-quality video streaming, support remote interaction, and enable analytics at the edge through communication with a local compute-enabled network node.

“Smart agriculture will likely represent a very large growth segment for UAVs in the next decade,” said Mihail L. Sichitiu from AERPAW, in a prepared statement. “And field testing at sites like AERPAW is critical both for exploring what’s possible and for ensuring operational safety. Only a drone under constant monitoring and control is a safe drone.”

In addition to agriculture solutions such as animal monitoring and tracking, use cases include delivery of supplies and objects for commercial use, improved air traffic control under Federal Aviation Administration regulations and command and control of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over cellular links.


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