Soon, drones, air taxis and helicopters will be able to share the same airspace with unlimited range and onboard collision detection. Over the past year, a company called SqwaQ has been aligning with major partners in general aviation, telecommunications and drones to overcome the biggest hurdle restricting the wide-scale operation of drones and air taxis: A reliable, robust data link with redundant safety backups and unlimited range that can support any aircraft flying from ground level up to 5500 feet altitude.
Currently, drones rely on WiFi to fly, but this fails after 1-2 miles. Flying further can only be done using pre-programmed GPS coordinates that leave the pilot unable to control the drone or recover it in an emergency. Satellites require heavy equipment and cost over $1,000 per hour for enough bandwidth, so they are not an affordable option for civilian drones. 4G LTE provides a nationwide footprint but a single connection doesn’t provide enough bandwidth and there is no backup if it fails. 5G cellular won’t work for these aircraft either. The 5G cell towers have to point down toward the ground to work properly, so 5G signals cannot reach the altitudes where drones, air taxis and helicopters need to routinely fly.
The SqwaQbox is a bit like your cell phone, but combines up to 12 modem modules inside rather than just one, and slots for up to 24 Simm cards. All those connections are combined to create one fat, multi-redundant data pipe that can support multiple pilot view cameras, ADSB, VHF radio, pilot command and control, and any other IP traffic desired, at incredible speeds. SqwaQ already has four patents issued on the device but the real value is in the services the company provides.
SqwaQ is an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) similar to Google-Fi, but architected to serve the needs of high bandwidth Industrial IoT customers and aircraft operations. The company has bandwidth agreements to provision prioritized 4G and 3G data services on over 600 global cellular networks in 100+ countries. SqwaQ customers can routinely change cellular networks as desired, and even transmit on multiple cell networks simultaneously. That capability is particularly important to emergency responders and disaster management teams needing flexibility.
“SqwaQ is about to change the perception of capabilities that were thought to be years away. We can liberate manned and unmanned aircraft to safely share the same airspace, even flying in and out of major airports. How would YOU use that capability? “, said Ted Lindsley, CEO.