Parrot ANAFI Ai is the world’s first off-the-shelf drone with Verizon 4G LTE connectivity. For commercial drone operators in the United States, that’s a big deal. Cellular drone connectivity has implications for data transfer, long-distance control, and even operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s Mariah Scott, Head of Verizon Robotics Business Technology, discussing the importance of Parrot ANAFI Ai.

We’ve already talked about cellular drone connectivity quite a bit, but we usually speak in general terms. So let’s get more specific: what will Verizon 4G LTE enable for Parrot ANAFI Ai?

1. Faster time to insight

4G LTE has changed the way we live our lives. We rely on wireless networks every day to communicate, navigate, and get things done away from home — and we rarely give them a second thought.

Now consider: up until now, essentially no off-the-shelf drones have been using 4G LTE for control or data transfer. Today, when a company wants to put their drone data to work, the user has to land the drone, take out the memory card, and plug it into a computer. If they want to upload the data, they may have to wait until they’re back in the office, or at least set up a mobile hotspot in the field.

With Verizon 4G LTE connectivity on Parrot ANAFI Ai, such inefficiencies are replaced by faster time to insight. Because the drone is already connected to the network, it can help achieve results faster, both for pilots in the field and technicians back in the office.

2. Seamless backup command & control on the nation’s most reliable network

Today, most drones are controlled over an unlicensed radio frequency (RF) link broadcast from the operator’s controller. This control link typically uses the same signal wavebands as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices. As a result, flying in an area with many such devices, like a worksite in a busy city, can result in unwanted interference that can affect communications between the controller and the drone. Such interference can have negative consequences, including loss of control of the drone.

Parrot ANAFI Ai, on the other hand, includes a 4G LTE connection in addition to a typical RF link. If the RF link is interrupted, Parrot ANAFI Ai seamlessly switches to the 4G LTE connection, and the mission can continue. The result is more reliable operations in a wider variety of situations. And Verizon is the network more people rely on, consistently winning top awards for network reliability in the U.S.

3. Range limited only by cellular connection (and regulatory requirements)

Typically, the RF link between a drone and its controller has a maximum range of a few miles under peak conditions. If obstacles or interference come between the controller and drone, that distance is often much shorter.

Because Parrot ANAFI Ai can be controlled over 4G LTE, it is capable of being controlled anywhere within range of Verizon’s 4G LTE network — which spans more than 2.68 million square miles from coast to coast across the U.S. That means, from a technical standpoint, Parrot ANAFI Ai’s range is limited only by cellular coverage and the endurance of its battery.

Importantly, however, regulations often prohibit such long-distance flights. In the U.S., any flight that goes beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the drone operator requires a hard-to-obtain waiver from the FAA. While Parrot ANAFI Ai is capable of BVLOS flights and takes a step toward making them commonplace, such operations should not be flown today without regulatory permission.

In preparation for future BVLOS operations, some drone programs are applying for a more accessible waiver: extended visual line of sight, or EVLOS. EVLOS waivers permit drones to fly long distances while a chain of visual observers keep an eye on the aircraft from various points along its course. Parrot ANAFI Ai is well-equipped for EVLOS flights, with Verizon 4G LTE providing long-distance control capabilities.

4. Mid-flight data transfer

Connected drones present an exciting opportunity for high volumes of data transfer, especially as they begin to connect to 5G networks. But even now, Parrot ANAFI Ai will be able to leverage 4G LTE to send data, opening up a variety of possible use cases.

In particular, Parrot plans to enable mid-flight transfer of survey photos to PIX4Dcloud for rapid processing of maps and models. This could dramatically streamline the photogrammetry process by cutting out extra steps and wait times. Ultimately, it could enable faster time to insight by allowing data processing to begin even before the drone is packed away after a mission.

5. Secure data transmission

With digital footprints expanding, the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches grows stronger. Since drones are a disruptive new technology, security is at the forefront of the conversation.

Parrot integrates cybersecurity by design. For Parrot ANAFI Ai, this includes strong authentication for 4G LTE. The embedded Secure Element protects the integrity of the embedded software, and it provides a unique identity to the drone for 4G pairing.

Verizon recognizes that a reliable network must be, among other things, a secure network. Every day, Verizon Wireless seeks to maintain the highest levels of network reliability and performance, working to protect its network against outside attacks, tampering, malicious activity, and more.

Get Verizon 4G LTE connectivity for Parrot ANAFI Ai — included in your Skyward subscription

These five perks of using Parrot ANAFI Ai are groundbreaking, and they’re all made possible because of Verizon 4G LTE. In fact, in the U.S., Parrot ANAFI Ai connects exclusively to the Verizon network through Skyward’s Connected Drone Solution.

Here’s one more great perk: today, Verizon connectivity for Parrot ANAFI Ai is provided at no additional cost to Skyward subscribers. If you have a subscription or free trial of Skyward, you’ll be able to activate your ANAFI Ai’s 4G LTE through Skyward’s InFlight mobile app — no wireless bills, hidden fees, complicated activation, or store visits necessary. It’s one more piece of a complete drone program management solution from Skyward.

Want to learn more about drone connectivity on the Verizon network? Download our white paper, Next Gen Drone Ops: Connecting Drones to the Verizon Network.

Connecting Drones to the Verizon Network White Paper