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MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium Achieves Milestone BVLOS with C2 over Private 5G SA

As uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) operations grow in number and complexity, it is critical to pursue use case innovation that will promote a safer world, one in which drone operators can safely execute short- and long-term missions in both urban and rural environments. One major step towards this goal is to count on reliable command and control (C2) while flying UAS beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). Open Generation has achieved just that over six miles on the Open Generation 5G Stand Alone (SA) Network, at the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) FAA-designated UAS test site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York.

Flying UAS BVLOS opens the door to first responders being able to dramatically decrease response time for hazardous incidents, both along open stretches of road and through crowded urban areas. This mission, flown with C2 data and video stream transmitted entirely over 5G SA, is an essential step in increasing public safety. Our team operated this flight from near Griffis Airport in Rome, NY, to a simulated incident zone at DHSES NY state preparedness training center site in Oriskany, approximately six miles away. Video was streamed over 5G SA throughout the whole operation. The video stream was processed utilizing AI/ML at the network edge to identify hazardous material signs through image recognition. Annotations were added to the video stream to indicate recognized signs and made available in real time for potential use by first response operations.

During our drone’s journey we achieved four notable milestones:

  • C2 for long distance autonomous operations (6 miles)
  • C2 for long distance remote guided mode for ascent and descent and incident operations (6 miles)
  • Advanced annotation image recognition and real time video streaming using OST’s AI/ML at the network edge
  • Real time sharing of recognized signs (annotated over video) with potential end-users (e.g. public safety personnel)

“Flying 6 miles with C2 over 5G SA demonstrates cellular connectivity as a viable approach for BVLOS operations, both for long distance autonomous flight as well as for remote maneuvers in guided mode.” says Dr. Leila Ribeiro, Chief Technology Director, Open Generation 5G Consortium. “Further, as UAS operations scales and multiple users start to share the same airspace, additional information sharing will be required to ensure safety and situational awareness. Relying on trusted 5G SA networks opens new doors for scaling BVLOS operations nationwide.”

“I want to congratulate all those who contributed to the Open Generation 5G Consortium in achieving this milestone,” said Thierry E. Klein, President of Nokia Bell Labs Solutions Research and founding member of the Open Generation Consortium. “This achievement enables endless possibilities for how 5G technology can support mission critical applications, using drones for industrial, enterprise and public safety scenarios. Innovation happens at the intersection of industries, and Open Generation provides a unique forum for cross industry collaboration that will positively impact society.”

Technical Documentation

To learn more about this capabilities read the Technical Report “MITRE Engenuity Open Generation Experiment: BVLOS over a Private 5G SA Network”. To learn more about how you can join this and other research activities with the Open Generation 5G Consortium visit us https://mitre-engenuity.org/5g/open-generation/ or email us at opengeneration@mitre-engenuity.org.

Technologies Used

This Open Generation 5G Consortium use case was achieved using a customized Aurelia X6 Pro UAS equipped with the MITRE Engenuity payload using NDAA compliant Telit 980m modem. Besides performing the AI/ML at the network edge, we also performed the same functions on a cloud-based configuration, utilizing Microsoft Azure for cloud services.

The Open Generation 5G SA Private Network is powered by Nokia and Verizon Wireless. Flight operations and coordination at the UAS Test Field were managed by NUAIR.  


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Adrian Buckley (MITRE), Matt Cuomo (MITRE), Bob Davis (MITRE), Izabela Gheorghisor, D.Sc. (MITRE), Rick Lane (MITRE), Thomas Mendes Klaus (MITRE), Dipesh Modi (MITRE), Leila Ribeiro, Ph.D., Marisa Raso (MITRE), Shereef Sayed (MITRE)


Join Us

The MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium is a privately funded research, development and innovation community. We bring together the wireless ecosystem to share insights, research, experimentation, and innovation to advance the use of 5G for public good. To learn more on how to become a member, validate NDAA-compliant 5G devices, share spectrum, fund open R&D projects or sponsor our 5G Innovation Summit. For more information regarding MITRE Engenuity Open Generation 5G Consortium visit https://mitre-engenuity.org/5g/open-generation/ or email us at opengeneration@mitre-engenuity.org