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Qualcomm Technologies receives FAA authorization for drone technology development


The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Qualcomm Technologies a certificate of authorization (COA) to perform outdoor testing of drones (known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems or UAS) on our San Diego campus, where we have extensive R&D facilities. With this grant, the Qualcomm Research team can now take even greater advantage of  on-campus resources to further accelerate the research and development of our UAS technology using Qualcomm Snapdragon processors.

This grant of the COA is unique since the Qualcomm campus is located within highly restricted Class B airspace within a few miles of an airport with an operational air traffic control tower. The authorization allows the research team to evaluate new technologies in a real-world urban environment—under tight controls at all times.

The authorization grants permission for operation of UAS in Class B airspace at and below 200 feet above ground level for the purpose of research and development.

The Core Competencies are divided in two Areas :

  1. Development of remote operation and autonomous flight control algorithms : These algorithms, which utilize exclusive, highly advanced control and computer vision engines, enable a wide variety of critical operations for safety, including autonomous navigation, obstacle avoidance, waypoint to waypoint navigation, landing zone determination, stabilized hovering, and sensor-aided dead reckoning, among others.
  2. The communications link from the UAS to the ground, and vice versa : A reliable, robust, secure and efficient communications link is an essential component of safe UAS operations.  “Lost link” scenarios, which cellular connectivity can help protect against, can present serious safety concerns, especially when drones are operating beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS)

Qualcomm Technologies will use this new COA to focus on UAS research and testing using cellular technologies, including the developing 5G technologies, with the aim of enabling UAS operations BVLOS and at night.



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