An interactive drone built to provide emergency services and public safety teams with accessible and mission critical situational awareness tools has been tested at Millbrook Proving Ground.

Virgin Media O2 conducted the trial with Fotokite, a Swiss company which has been developing actively tethered drones since 2014.

The drone allows first responders to quickly send a tethered drone up to 45 meters above a situation, enabling emergency on-site personnel. Teams based in other locations connected by a 5G network can immediately assess what’s happened.

During the trial the drone was powered by Virgin Media O2’s 5G network and its ease of use allowed it to be flown without a drone pilot’s licence.

The trial was to develop a greater understanding of how 5G connectivity can be used to aid emergency services at trauma scenes, and remote or difficult to reach locations.

The tethered Fotokite Sigma system was successfully tested to receive 5G network connectivity from its base station on the ground, to transfer real-time data to first responders at the location and local hospital teams via a smart tablet.

Rob Searle, Head of 5G at Virgin Media O2, said:

“This is an important piece of technology and a further example of how 5G technologies can provide societal benefits.

“We are relentlessly pursuing new 5G-enabled innovations that will make real differences to people’s lives, from smart cities to connected vehicles and our work with utilities companies to the NHS.

“This partnership with Fotokite is another example of this, and could transform how emergency services operate and react to life-threatening situations.”