Valmont Industries has set a new industry record by conducting a 77-mile beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operation, facilitated by T-Mobile's 5G network. This revolutionary development, enabled by the largest and fastest 5G network in the U.S., enhances the efficiency of remote data collection and sharing, transforming sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure monitoring, and disaster relief.
Valmont's BVLOS operation marks a significant advancement in the field of infrastructure inspections. Traditional methods often require manned aircraft or ground-based assessments, both of which are resource-intensive and potentially dangerous.
With the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) increasingly granting waivers for BVLOS drone operations, Valmont, one of the first beneficiaries of these waivers, is leading the way in the industry.
The BVLOS flight from Childress to Aspermont, Texas, which was completed in under three hours, utilized a Harris Aerial H6E drone equipped with a 5G connected Sony A7RM5 camera. This drone managed to inspect vital infrastructure like power lines, bridges, and railways three times faster than conventional methods while consuming less than two gallons of fuel.
Valmont Industries' UAS Manager, Jake Lahmann, emphasized the significance of this achievement, stating, “To be able to get this kind of range in a single drone flight is really going to revolutionize the way the industry approaches infrastructure inspections.”
Echoing this sentiment, T-Mobile's President of Technology, Ulf Ewaldsson, added, “Whether it's connecting a person on their smartphone or improving long-range drone infrastructure inspections, there is no doubt that the reach and speed of T-Mobile 5G is making it possible for entire industries to revolutionize the way they work.”
Valmont plans to roll out drone-in-a-box (DiaB) services nationwide by 2024, providing remote aerial inspection services. This breakthrough, combined with T-Mobile's expansive 5G network, is expected to contribute significantly to the proactive monitoring of infrastructure sites, thereby preventing malfunctions before they can cause extensive damage.
This collaboration between Valmont Industries and T-Mobile indicates a future where long-distance drone operations become the norm, creating safer and more efficient methods for critical infrastructure inspections and highlighting the transformative power of 5G technology in various industries.
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