In China, an airship with a 5G base station on board is to provide communication services for emergency rescue and disaster relief in the future. A first test flight of the unmanned airship “5G Cloud One” was successfully completed in southwest China. The airship could “effectively compensate for the shortcomings of traditional communication methods in emergencies,” reports the Chinese news agency Xinhua.
In affected areas, the helium airship is said to have a signal range of up to 100 km2 and a payload of 200 kg, able to stay in the air for 15 days and withstand strong winds. China Mobile engineer Chen Guowei said this would compensate for slow data transmission and limited coverage in emergencies.
Test in earthquake region
“5G Cloud One” completed its first test flight at an altitude of 300 meters in Chuxiong Yi Prefecture in Yunnan Province. The region is prone to natural disasters. Most recently, several people were killed and dozens injured in a major earthquake in Yunnan Province in May.
Are in development according to the Chinese Government News Agency the Yunnan Innovation Institute of Beihang University (Beijing Aerospace University), China Mobile and Huawei Technologies.
Airship in action after the flood disaster
In Germany, the fixed and mobile networks in the affected regions collapsed during the recent flood disaster. Even days later, participants were still excluded from telecommunications services. The providers tried to plug the dead spots by increasing the range and using mobile units. One or more airships with a 5G base station on board could have established a quick connection to relatives and friends in Germany.
A similar airship like the one shown in China already exists and was also used in the flood disaster – ALtAIR from Airbus. The battery-powered airship ALtAIR delivered according to Airbus “With its precise optical sensors, exact data and photos from areas that were barely accessible”. The North Rhine-Westphalian road construction authority therefore used the services of Airbus to get an overview.
5G network for control
As early as 2019, Airbus presented the airship “ALtAIR” together with Vodafone at the IAA. Unlike “5G Cloud One”, “ALtAIR” does not provide a 5G base station, but can be controlled remotely in real time via the 5G network. In 2019, the developers envisaged the creation of 3D models and maps for navigation systems of autonomous vehicles as areas of application for the twelve-meter autonomous airship.