Qualcomm releases the first-ever 5G, AI-enabled drone platform
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Qualcomm releases the first-ever 5G, AI-enabled drone platform

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Qualcomm technology was involved in developing the Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, for the first powered flight on another planet four months ago. Now they’re back to focusing on this planet. Recently, Qualcomm announced the first-ever commercial drone platform that’s enabled with 5G connectivity and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The chipmaker’s Flight RB5 5G Platform enables both technologies making this drone suitable for a multitude of industries including mapping, photography, film, inspections, and emergency response. It can also perform safer beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights.

‘We are proud to continue our momentum of enabling the digital transformation of global industries by unveiling the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform, a solution that is purpose-built for drone development with enhanced autonomy and intelligence features, bringing premium connected flight capabilities to industrial, enterprise and commercial segments,’ said Dev Singh, senior director, business development and general manager of autonomous robotics, drones and intelligent machines, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

In addition to the platform, Qualcomm also released a drone kit for developers to customize their own builds. It includes a body, rotors, and other materials that allow users to create a drone right out of the box. Powered by the company’s QRB5165 processor, it supports ‘on-device machine learning, computer vision, robust security, multimedia, Wi-Fi, and cellular connectivity capabilities.’

The camera has Qualcomm’s Spectra 480 ISP for 8K video, 4K HDR video , and 200MP stills. It’s also equipped with Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) for smoother footage. Digital zoom is included, though Qualcomm has not specified the specific metrics. A 7-camera concurrency enables fully autonomous flights. 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity supports better transmission and more reliable BVLOS flights.

Because this rig is designed for low power consumption, remote pilots can expect longer time in the air to film or capture imagery. The price tag for this rig starts at $4,000 USD, without the 5G modem, so it will appeal to commercial pilots, professional filmmakers, or hobbyists with disposable income. Pre-orders are currently being accepted and it’s expected to start shipping in Q4 of 2021.

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