Vodafone has used its 4G network to guide a drone to one of the more remote places in the UK with the goal of delivering Christmas treats to hard-working volunteers.

The volunteers on Portland Bill Coastwatch, one of the most southerly points of the UK operating 365 days a year, work with emergency services to keep a watchful eye and ear out for anyone in trouble along the coast. The site can be difficult to reach in the winter months making drone deliveries an ideal solution for dropping off small amounts of supplies.

While drones are traditionally controlled with radio link which requires a direct line of sight to the drone, Vodafone managed to pilot the drone via its 4G network and the use of a portable 4G router. This potentially allows the drone to cover greater distances and reach places that are remote but still covered by a 4G network.

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The advent of 5G will allow a much lower latency connection, opening up the possibility for 5G drone use in more populated areas thanks to the improved control granted by the faster network.

Using a 4G network in this way can pave the way for drones to be used in situations where urgent supplies or medicine are needed in remote locations, or for search and rescues operations. The number of use cases here really is vast.