14 August 2020

First published by: Global UTM Association

GUTMA “Meet Our Members” interview series, where every month we feature a different Member. 

This month we speak to Thomas Neubauer, Vice President of Innovations at TEOCO –  thanks to Thomas for taking the time to share with us his latest news, projects and his take on the industry.

Introducing: Thomas Neubauer, Vice President of Innovations at TEOCO

Thomas is leading TEOCO’s AirborneRF project, a software solution that provides critical data on cellular connectivity and ground risk to enable safe beyond-visual- line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone flights.When this solution was developed, they learned that data was extremely beneficial for UTM providers and therefore decided to get involved in the industry.

AirborneRF provides real-time data between UTM systems and mobile network operators (MNOs) to identify if connectivity is good enough to provide a sufficient C2 link. MNOs also provide the most accurate understanding of where people are at a given point in time to provide greater insights on ground risks for automated remote drone missions

Thomas is saying that “It has become increasingly obvious that UAVs must be connected to integrate safely into airspace. TEOCO already work closely with MNOs and the aviation industry to seamlessly integrate AirborneRF in the secure processing of highly classified data exchanges. Our current mission and goals are focused on software solutions that manage radio network design, build-out, operational performance and faults across networks and applications within these industries. “

At the moment they are working on projects with partners all over the world, including Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. They are also aware that satcom providers complement MNOs and are working on a SatCom-Stack.

As cellular connectivity has become critical for IoT systems, smart health solutions and machine-to-machine communication, this also provides us the opportunity to extend safe drone operations into vertical industries, which is very exciting.

Thomas believes in that the key differences between most IoT cases and connectivity for aviation are the mission critical nature, the very high requirements on reliability and that in aviation you need to know availability and continuity of the connection in advance.

The parts of UTM that inspire and motivate me most are based around the joining of global aviation and MNO industries to automatically exchange data that unlocks the safety of BVLOS drone operations in creating a new industry category. Contributing to this really does give me that drive and GUTMA is key to developing relationships with various stakeholders in making BVLOS UAVs a reality.

Thomas shared with us that for future projects they are working with their customers to help them prepare for the “operational integration” of communication networks with UTM systems, well in advance of the commercial need. Feedback to date indicates that once regulatory change occurs the need for BVLOS operations will change dramatically. TEOCO is well ahead of the curve in connecting aviation, MNOs and Satcoms, and they want to bring that advantage to their customers.

I believe critical connectivity for drones and UTMs will be a game changer, and I see the intersection of aviation and cellular connectivity as a key trend in catapulting BVLOS drone operations at scale. I also expect MNOs to go beyond providing just connectivity through the creation of value-added services.

TEOCO is always on the lookout for new talent as well as global partnerships that will help drive scale for the drone eco-system. We are also keen to engage with interested parties on AirborneRF in PoCs.