Gints Jakovels, UAS/UTM Development & Solutions Lead at LMT
Welcome to GUTMA “Meet Our Members” interview series, where every month we feature a different member.
This month we speak to Gints Jakovels, UAS/UTM Development & Solutions Lead at LMT. Thanks to Gint for taking the time to share his latest news, projects, industry insights and trends.
Introducing: Gints Jakovels, UAS/UTM Development & Solutions Lead at LMT
Gints became attracted to UTM after he bought his first drone, long before they became mainstream. He loved the fun of this new technology. Then, mobile operator LMT decided to look at mobile-network-adjacent businesses and decided to delve into drones. It was the perfect combination for Gints as he had a genuine personal interest in learning more about new technologies, so jumped at the opportunity to get involved with LMT’s UTM projects.
LMT is quite unique as it’s not the norm for MNOs to look outside of their networks for new business cases, but as a first mover they are spearheading the use of mobile networks in a variety of use cases, including the UTM ecosystem.
While most mobile operators look at how to use their networks at ground level, LMT has consistently invested in experiments to map out the technical capabilities for its network in the sky. In July 2019 they set a record for the highest mobile network coverage – 85,000 feet in the air (26 km). In November 2019 they became one of the first to demonstrate a live remote drone flight BVLOS over a mobile network.
Internationally, LMT are involved in working groups through GSMA and GUTMA, where together with industry colleagues from other countries they research mobile networks to understand how to develop them at a wider scale. Locally, LMT are leading discussions and demonstrating to regulators how the industry could benefit from the adoption of mobile networks for safer and faster drone integration into common airspace.
LMT’s mission is to unlock the full potential of the mobile network. Within the scope of UTM. Their key goal is to develop the mobile network to be used by drones. At the moment they work with different operators within the scope of the GSMA drone interest group, as well as global and European partners, including TEOCO, DRONIQ, AEROBITS, AIRSHARE, and more.On a local level they work with regulatory agencies – CAA (the Civil Aviation Agency), and the local ANSP (Air Navigation Service Provider).
Projects underway at LMT include the implementation of the first cross-border drone flight, conducted entirely by mobile network – this experiment was within the scope of the international Comp4Drones project. A major component of the experiment was to understand the existing cellular network technical capabilities and to use the mobile network as a communication channel for command and control of drones.
Gints said: “The flight started in Latvia and ended in Estonia with a multirotor drone traveling a total of 8km. The drone was equipped with two SIM cards – one from each country – and switched from one to the other mid-flight as it crossed the border. To accomplish the BVLOS flight, UgCS ground control software was used in combination with a custom-built command and control modem that was built in collaboration with SPH Engineering. This cross-border demonstration proved the technical feasibility in switching networks within milliseconds, and also provided us with the confidence to continue with cross-border mobile network-based project development.”
Future projects at LMT will continue development of the use of mobile networks for drone command and control communication. Their future goal is to prove the concept and vision to local regulatory institutions, and then to international institutions.
LMT are also looking at how they can attach sensors to drones and gain real-time data, as well as the use of mobile networks for remote ID (identifying drone pilots) – particularly important for safety reasons. Gints said: “Just like a car, we want to know who’s driving.”
Trends noted by Gints are the development of air traffic as being well underway. LMT are also seeing increasing amounts of interest in BVLOS and as a mobile network they are going to play a crucial role in facilitating this opportunity. Other trends show that UTM solutions in one country could be offered to others by various service providers, including mobile networks. LMT believe in healthy competition whereby clients can choose their service provider. There are early signs to indicate this may be adapted by the UTM industry as well.
LMT are currently looking to collaborate with organizations that share their interests and are also interested in exploring how new technologies can be incorporated into existing infrastructure. They are also keen to join forces with companies looking to demonstrate and develop new drone-related business applications and welcome interested parties to get in touch.
Gints said: “What draws me to the UTM ecosystem right now is the fact that the industry is still taking form and early players are able to play a decisive role in shaping it. What is most exhilarating is that there aren’t any established methods, just guidelines which provide us with the opportunity to figure out how best to reach the desired result.”
In finishing the interview Gints highlighted his appreciation for GUTMAs involvement in the aviation industry and their ability to solve drone related challenges. He said: “It’s so meaningful to have the aviation industry on board to develop a joint vision and implement UTM to its full. Having them recognize and accept the regulations and changes that come with incorporating drones into air traffic is superb.”
Feel free to contact us at GUTMA if you have any questions and please do visit our blog again soon for more upcoming interviews!