No, Apple isn’t going to market a drone. We have news today from DroneLife showing that Apple received a patent last month concerning drone telecommunications technology. This patent is timely considering that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently finalized drone Remote ID rules.
Apple’s Drone Patent would enhance Remote ID
Remote ID adds drones — whether hobbyist camera drones or Amazon delivery drones — to the national airspace. Each drone meeting a specific criteria can identify itself to air traffic management systems with information such as altitude, heading, and airspeed.
On December 31, 2020, the US Patent & Trademark Office published the Apple patent. Titled “UE Modem for Drones with Flight Path and 3D Wireless Environment Signal Quality Information”, the company intends to patent:
an apparatus of a drone, the apparatus comprising: sensors arranged to determine a geographic location and an orientation of the drone; a plurality of antennas configured to form a beam through which the drone communicates data and control signals with a serving cell using a carrier frequency; an application processor; and a wireless modem arranged to communicate with the serving cell through the antenna and with the application processor.”DroneLife, 01/11/2021
Drone tech experts believe that Apple is creating technology to improve drone telecommunications. Future drones may have “Detect and Avoid” (DAA) technology. These drones could fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) without a need for special certification. This is particularly important for companies that wish to do autonomous drone deliveries or have drones doing remote inspection work.
More Than Just Remote Identification
Dr. Terry Martin of Skyy Network said that “This system is about a lot more than just remote identification. It will improve the quality of the channel for transferring control, telemetry and payload data.” For locations where both 4G and 5G connectivity are available, Apple’s technology would “support BVLOS flight with improved confidence that the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, AKA drone) can be both surveilled and controlled, because the quality of the connection for relaying that information is improved.
Apple may have filed this patent just to cover the idea of a new technology. It’s unknown if the company truly intends to market a service or product using the tech.
Rendering of a fictitious Apple drone was created by Eric Huismann