In 2017, the Ministry of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore jointly issued a Call-for-Proposal (CFP) to develop systems and technologies to enable the innovative and wide-ranging use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in Singapore’s densely populated urban environment without compromising safety. The CFP invited proposals for the development of UAS Traffic Management solutions to develop the capabilities and technologies that can enable Beyond-Visual-Line-Of-Sight (BVLOS) operations, which can be more cost-effective as they help enhance productivity of current processes.
In 2018, a Nova Systems led consortium, in close collaboration with OneSky, was awarded the project to undertake research and development of UAS Traffic Management (UTM) technologies.
As part of their needs analysis, Nova Systems identified that the commercial potential of UAS technology can only be fully exploited if BVLOS operations are enabled, with a critical enabler being reliable Command and Non-Payload Communications (CNPC). The most likely medium for providing wide-scale BVLOS CNPC in Urban and Metropolitan areas is 4G and 5G telecommunications. However, it is critical that the suitability of the 4G and 5G networks is assessed for its suitability to safely support UAS, UTM and Urban Air Mobility operations.
Nova Systems and their partners, Analytical Graphics Inc (AGI), Scout Aerial Media, M1 Limited, and Rohde and Schwarz undertook their first of its planned suite of trials in April 2019. The trials were designed to assess the suitability of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) telecommunications networks in Singapore, specifically examining the characteristics and suitability of the M1 network for UTM, with a short-term intent to map coverage in strategically selected regions that typically erode signal propagation in different ways.
In the next suite of trials, the consortium will explore the capabilities of a customised UTM prototype, with operations to include BVLOS flight and further expand our CNPC coverage and modelling efforts. The long-term intent is to produce a comprehensive LTE coverage map for Singapore, but also produce predictive models that can be deployed in other cities.