AT&T Successfully Tests All-Weather Drone for Disaster Response

The Flying COW drone will be one of two types of drones that AT&T will offer for its Network Disaster Recovery system
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BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Broadcasters (including myself) like to tout how we’re able to keep our systems up and running during natural disasters, especially in comparison to cellular systems. (Puerto Rico is only the latest example.)

The big carriers are doing their best to keep systems up and running though, even in the worst of conditions.

AT&T has designed an all-weather drone to help keep its wireless network up and running during and after natural disasters. The all-weather Flying COW drone — designed by AT&T with help from manufacturers and first responders — will be one of two types of drones that AT&T will offer for its Network Disaster Recovery system, reports rcrwireless.com. AT&T designed its “Extreme-Weather Drone” to be to fly through rain or snow and handle tropical wind gusts up to 50 mph, and it can handle extreme temperature conditions as well.

The Extreme-Weather Drone took its first flight recently in Bedminster, N.J. It was also flown by University of Washington engineering students in Redmond, Wash., where students tested LTE antennas they designed specifically for the drones, according to the same article. The system tethers the drone to the ground with a thin fiber cable that feeds power and signal to the airborne drone, which then sends the signal out over the air to customers.

Last year AT&T’s flying COWs provided data, voice, and text services to customers and recovery teams in Puerto Rico and carried dozens of gigabytes of data, and thousands of calls and texts.

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