Celcom to co-develop 5G drone tech for smart cities and agritech

Cities around the world are looking to leverage innovative technologies to improve the efficiency of local city services, create healthier urban environments, and to create more sustainable features in areas including transportation, utilities, and public services.

These smart city initiatives require collaboration between the private and public sectors in order to be effectively deployed, and to that end, Malaysian digital solutions provider Aerodyne Group has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government-linked telecommunications service provider Celcom Axiata Bhd.

The aim of the partnership? To explore the development of drone technology.

In a joint statement released last week, both entities affirmed their mutual dependence on telecommunications technology, but increasingly automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and 5G technology. The two groups will be looking to co-develop innovative solutions with potential applications for smart city initiatives, and for the growing market.

Aerodyne, which has been developing unmanned aerial drone solutions globally, but is headquartered in Malaysia, has existing drone applications along with software-as-a-service offerings for a number of fields including aerial data intelligence gathering, emergency response and surveillance, natural resource management, and intelligent resource management among others.

With the MoU signing, past Aerodyne applications will also be progressively powered by Celcom.

Aerodyne and its working partners will also be able to participate in next-generation research and development in telecommunications technologies being headed up by Celcom’s Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE), working together to build out real-world use cases combining their technology to digitally optimize targeted industries.

Celcom has previously invested in Aerodyne, and the new MoU could see Celcom expanding its ecosystem of B2B solutions by adding Aerodyne drone tech as well. Idham Nawawi, the chief executive officer of Celcom Axiata Bhd, said that the company wants to work with a variety of technology partners, especially local startups, as the Malaysian telecom giant aims to become a leading IR4.0 technology adoption enabler.

“The affiliation with local technology companies such as Aerodyne is a part of Celcom’s strategy towards stronger digital advocacy to aspiring local digital and technology entrepreneurs.” Nawawi said, adding that the initiative is a continuation to the support provided by Axiata Digital Fund (ADIF).

“We hope to develop more similar collaborations to continuously inspire Malaysians technology entrepreneurs and startups into faster adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) and AI solutions, and at the same time contribute to the building of an inclusive local digital ecosystem.”

Aerodyne’s AI-driven asset management and data-gathering tech could see immediate adoption in smart city projects, which are seeing strong interest in Southeast Asia. The Asian Development Bank estimates that regional investment in smart city initiatives will be nearly US$600 billion between 2009 and 2020.

Similarly, the agritech industry has been rapidly growing, driven by the need for disruptive solutions to fix sustainability and food resource management headaches prevalent in this heavily agriculture-dependent part of the world. Adoption of tech like AI and IoT to monitor and increase farm yield is helping sustain the market, which is estimated to grow from US$13.8 billion in 2020 to US$22 billion by 2025, according to research firm Markets and Markets.

To maximize the efficiencies that the drone technology is capable of, a high speed connection that the likes of 5G can provide will be required. Aerodyne Group’s founder and group chief executive officer, Kamarul A Muhamed said: “We are excited about this strategic partnership with Celcom as our preferred connectivity provider to jointly explore and develop smart solutions using drones by leveraging on 5G technology.”

“This will enable drones to transmit high definition footage in real-time,” he continued. “5G’s millisecond latency and data speeds of up to 100 times faster than 4G allows drones to transmit high-quality footage and data to operators on the ground.”

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