Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
UAVs, or drones, are aircraft that operate without human pilots on board. They may be remotely controlled directly by an operator, or undertake missions with varying degrees of autonomy, which may go up to fully autonomous UAV operations without any human intervention.
UAVs encompass a variety of shapes and sizes of aircraft, from tiny quadcopters that fit in the palm of the hand to drones that are larger than many manned fighter jets. The most common types are multirotors, which use sets of spinning propeller blades to provide lift, and fixed-wing, which utilise lift generated by forward motion and wing shape in the same way as manned aircraft.
Unmanned Aerial/Aircraft System (UAS)
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, technically UAS (unmanned aerial/aircraft system) refers not only to the drone/UAV, but also to all the associated equipment that helps it function, including its sensors, ground control station (GCS), and launch and recovery systems.
Some definitions of UAS also encompass the human pilot controlling the system, and may also include multiple UAVs controlled by the same pilot/GCS.
Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS)
BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) refers to the operation of UAVs and drones at ranges where the operator can no longer see the aircraft with the naked eye. Practically speaking, as well as for the purposes of many aviation regulations, this distance is usually defined at over 500 metres, assuming that there are no obstacles obscuring the aircraft.
In most jurisdictions around the world, drone operators typically require certain permissions to fly BVLOS. These permissions can require a lot of effort and considerations to obtain, and will require the drone to be equipped with enhanced safety such as detect-and-avoid capabilities and a secure and reliable drone connectivity solution.
Commercial Delivery Drones
Commercial delivery drones are unmanned aircraft that have been specifically adapted to carry and deliver a range of different commercial cargo. Long-range delivery drones will fly BVLOS and typically operate autonomously, and shorter-range drones may be used for line-of-sight last-mile delivery, such as between a delivery truck and a residential or business address.
Delivery drones have been successfully tested at a variety of ranges up to several hundred miles, carrying cargo such as post, food deliveries, spare parts and prescription medicine.
Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN)
A WAN provides networking capabilities that extend over a large geographical area, as opposed to LANs (local area networks) that are typically limited to the same building or campus. WANs may connect multiple LANs together, and may also provide internet connectivity.
SD-WAN improves on the performance of traditional WANs, abstracting the network topology from its actual hardware and using virtualized architecture. The advantages of SD-WAN solutions include increased bandwidth due to the ability to optimize network traffic, centralized management, and less reliance on specialized hardware.
Mobile SD-WAN extends capabilities even further, providing backups to fixed-line networking and allowing the extension of networks into areas without fixed infrastructure.
Hybrid Wide Area Network (Hybrid WAN)
Hybrid WAN provides connectivity between two WANs in geographically distinct locations. It uses two different circuits to carry network traffic, which may be a combination of traditional multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) networking, LTE, or Internet. Having a backup circuit allows traffic to bypass the data centre and avoid additional latency. Non-critical traffic can be funnelled via the Internet, freeing up the MPLS circuit to carry critical traffic.
Hybrid WAN may often be used in conjunction with SD-WAN, in order to take advantage of the latter’s intelligent features that provide enhanced performance and adaptation to dynamically changing network conditions, resulting in optimized bandwidth usage.
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)
SASE combines the functionality of SD-WAN with enhanced security in a single cloud-based service at the network edge. The service was developed to address security concerns arising due to more and more network traffic moving through the cloud and over mobile networks rather than enterprise data centres. SASE security components include Secure web gateways (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), zero-trust network access (ZTNA) and firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS).
The cloud-based model provides reduced complexity by utilising a single platform instead of solutions from multiple vendors, and also allows users to easily scale up according to their business needs. Security is consistent for all users regardless of location, due to a single set of policies.
Unmanned connectivity refers to the communication between an unmanned vehicle, such as a UAV or drone, and its ground control station (GCS). Communications links between the vehicle and GCS may be used for command and control, telemetry, and transfer of data from onboard payloads such as video cameras or sensors.
Unmanned connectivity methods include RF (radio frequency) methods (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio), LTE (3G, 4G and 5G), and SATCOM (satellite communications). Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are used only for short distances, and the other methods all allow for longer-range communications.
For BVLOS applications, such as long-distance drones that may pass through a variety of communications environments, a secure connectivity solution will be required that can aggregate all the different methods and seamlessly switch between them according to current conditions and requirements.
Drone Wireless Communication
As UAVs and drones tend to travel relatively large distances from their ground control stations, wireless methods are the only practical way to transmit and receive control signals, telemetry data, and data from onboard sensors and payloads.
Wireless communications methods for drones and UAVs include Wi-fi and Bluetooth for short-range applications and 3G/4G/LTE and satellite communications (SATCOM) for longer ranges.
Rural Broadband Internet (RBI)
Rural broadband internet refers to methods of providing areas outside of major urban settlements with high-speed internet. These regions may have extremely poor-quality telephone lines, or an insufficient quantity of telephone lines, resulting in extremely slow speeds, and the upgrading and replacement of these lines may be impractical.
There are a variety of different methods that may be used to deliver high-speed internet to areas where cable-based connections cannot be improved or installed. These include radio antennas, satellite communications, and LTE networks (3G/4G/5G).