Telefónica Tech, the special projects arm of the Spanish operator, and EHang, which specialises in driverless vehicles, have joined forces to deploy ‘smart aerial solutions’ in Europe and Latin America.

Andrew Wooden

February 14, 2024

2 Min Read

EHang describes itself as the world's leading technology company for Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing Vehicles (eVTOL) for the transport of passengers and cargo without a pilot on board. The deal with Telefonica Tech, which will be presented at MWC in a couple of weeks, will involve it providing the firm with 5G and private networks to power its unmanned aerial vehicles, as it looks to expand its presence in Europe and Latin America.

The firms intend to deploy use cases of these UAVs honed towards passenger transport, logistics, health services, emergency response, smart city management, and drone light shows.

5G is important for the running of these drones because ‘they have the capacity to guarantee reliable communications, low latency and high data transmission capacity,’ we’re told, making it possible to optimise the real-time control and monitoring of aircraft by sending telemetry or multimedia data to both ground control systems and centralised public information systems.

With regards to the private networks included in the deal, the idea is these will boost the security of the information obtained by drones by preventing data traffic from being shared outside the customer's premises, and also provide coverage in remote areas.

The fruits of this collaboration will be generated in Telefónica Tech's TheThinX laboratory, and EHang's Urban Air Mobility Centre in Spain.

"The partnership with EHang means being part of a pioneering project for the air mobility of the future,” said Alfredo Serret, Global Head of IoT at Telefónica Tech. “The fact that EHang relies on our connectivity to develop the sector in Europe and Latin America confirms the strong positioning of our service in both markets, and means combining capabilities to enable connected, safe, efficient and green air mobility for all.”

Victoria Jing Xiang, EHang's COO for Europe and Latam, added: "We are delighted to join forces with Telefónica Tech to jointly deploy Urban Air Mobility and the low altitude economy in Europe and Latin America. Telefónica Tech's capabilities and expertise in connectivity and the internet of things will enable EHang to deploy its solutions efficiently and securely, allowing millions of people to benefit from its applications in their daily lives”.

Civilian and commercial use of drones, UAVs, and other permutations of vehicles that drive themselves about, have long been pointed to as a flashy example of what smart cities and 5G in general will be able to enable.

The projects that have emerged often seem interesting, though it still feels like we’re quite a way from any meaningful realisation of the vision of fleets of delivery drones buzzing around the sky, emergency areal medical drops, and driverless cars – particularly in the UK apparently.   

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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