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December 19, 2016

Vodafone to manage drone traffic in Europe

Telecoms company has talks to manage European drone traffic.

By Hannah Williams

Vodafone could move into the business of managing drone traffic in Europe by using its mobile network.

The announcement came after the company met with European aviation safety authorities about adapting its network to track and identify unmanned aircraft.

Vodafone is expected to submit a proposal to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), leading to a consultation period on ways to certify, control and regulate unmanned aircraft.

In an interview with Financial Times, Yves Morier, director of unmanned aircraft at EASA said: Mobile phone companies offered “lots of interesting ideas… A number of ideas Vodafone had could contribute.

“Human intervention would be limited. It is highly ambitious but…it is clearly a technology that should be looked at.”

Pan European telecoms provider Vodafone, made the approach as regulators aim to develop a framework to integrate drones safely into international airspace by 2030.

Analyst estimates claim there could be more than 400,000 commercial and government drones flying in its airspace by 2035, with many flying at low levels over densely populated areas.

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Drones which fly at altitudes of almost 500ft are expected to account for 250m flying hours by 2050, which is against just 33m for manned aircraft in controlled airspace.


Network provider, Vodafone was invited to discuss its proposal for management of unmanned air traffic with the agency’s top officials.

It is likely that consumer drones will be required to insert and register a sim card, similar to the use in the mobile phones market. The network could then be used to enable communication between drones to avoid collisions.

Telecoms equipment company, Nokia, has also recently signed a deal with Dutch authorities to trial drone traffic management system. It has been developing its system for two years, alongside similar technologies needed for connected car networks.

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