On January 7 I joined Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg onstage during his keynote presentation at CES. Hans’ talk focused on how Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband will advance communication and connectivity and usher in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Due to its low latency, high bandwidth, and security, 5G will unlock new capabilities in every part of our lives.

It’s hard to overstate 5G’s potential—Hans calls it “a quantum leap” compared to 4G. To prove his point, Hans invited several leaders to demonstrate how they’ll be taking advantage of 5G in the near future. Mark Thompson, CEO of The New York Times, and Jamie Voris, CTO of Disney Studios, discussed how 5G will change news and entertainment. Dr. Christopher Morley, cofounder of a startup called Medivis, spoke about how 5G-enabled augmented reality will transform surgery. Kyle Kuzma of the LA Lakers even shot hoops with VR goggles.

I, of course, talked about drones and how 5G is key to maximizing their potential in industrial applications. Because Skyward is a relatively new member of the Verizon family, I was excited to have the opportunity to demonstrate what our team in Portland has been up to. The entire presentation was technically complex—we conducted a 5G test flight, remotely deploying a drone stationed in Los Angeles from the stage in Las Vegas. The success of this was the result of a strong effort by everyone at Skyward: In just a few short weeks, our flight ops team had found a 5G location in downtown Los Angeles and our engineers worked overtime to test connectivity. Meanwhile, our marketing team created a beautiful video featuring our customer Southern Company, as well as footage from customers Florida Power and Light, Brasfield & Gorrie, Stantec, and PBS Engineering and partners Unleash and DroneDeploy.

I’ve been so pleased to see the industry’s response to our teamwork on such a big stage. But the truth is that CES wasn’t a culmination of efforts—it was a milestone in the journey. For the past several years, long before we were acquired by Verizon, we’ve known that connecting drones to a network would be key for conducting BVLOS flights at scale; remotely deploying fleets of drones; gaining real-time access to data; providing routing and deconfliction; delivering packages; and so much more.

How Enterprises Can Prepare for Connected Drones

While we’re working to make connected drones a reality, we’re also committed to helping companies stand up high-efficiency drone programs now. And we will continue to support those programs as BVLOS, autonomous flights, and remote deployments become part of regular operations. Adopting a drone program that can adapt to advances in technology and regulations requires careful planning and mindfulness regarding near-term value with an eye on what’s coming.

In January, I hosted a webinar in which our experts discussed the future of connected drones, including:

  • What connected drones will mean for your business
  • Regulatory predictions and areas of focus
  • Taking advantage of AI for drone data
  • An inside look at a forward-looking enterprise drone program
  • Practical tips to ensure your drone operations are ready for the future

You can download the recorded presentation here, and we’ll be sure to send you the slides and other resources as well.

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