Drones as window washers? T-Mobile is betting on it

The use cases for drones seems to grow longer every day. There are delivery drones, inspection drones, search and rescue drones, elephant-herding drones and more. But telecommunications giant T-Mobile is betting that drones could do some dirty work — and dangerous work. T-Mobile announced last week that it was working with Lucid Drone Technologies, which builds drones for commercial cleaning services — particularly window washing.

In the deal, T-Mobile for Business will serve as the company’s exclusive fleet management provider for the company’s growing number of industrial spraying drones. That means T-Mobile’s network will power critical capabilities for Lucid Drone Technologies industrial spraying drones such as real-time sharing of flight data, battery utilization information, hardware diagnostics, and delivery of firmware and software updates. Additionally, T-Mobile Control Center will give Lucid Drone Technologies the ability to view and manage the connectivity of their industrial spraying drones, providing operators with near real-time visibility to all their industrial spraying drones via the T-Mobile Control Center.

And assuming that BVLOS drone rules continue to evolve, Lucid Drone Technologies has plans to use T-Mobile’s 5G network to fly its own drones beyond line-of-sight. For now though, it’s just 4G at play, with T-Mobile for Business delivering 4G LTE connectivity to Lucid Drone Technologies industrial spraying drones. The companies say they expect the 5G network to be available for drones “in the near future for advanced use cases such as network operations center access, live streaming video and remote piloting.”

Lucid drone technologies

How does Lucid Drone Technologies clean windows and other exteriors with drones?

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Lucid Drone Technologies is making drones used to clean high-risk facilities maintenance work like exterior soft-wash cleaning and high-rise window washing. Facilities include outdoor stadiums and arenas, hotels, and university structures.

Lucid Drone Technologies says using drones for exterior window washing can reduce risk and cut costs for exterior cleaning. Commercial property management firms and developers can face expensive liability insurance premiums and equipment fees, but — with drones equipped to clean exterior building surfaces and windows — that may not be necessary.

“At Lucid Drone Technologies, we are committed to providing robotic solutions that allow our customers to complete jobs that were once dull, dirty, and dangerous in a safer, faster, and smarter way,” said Andrew Ashur, CEO, Lucid Drone Technologies in a prepared statement.

Lucid began in 2018 by using retrofitted, off-the-shelf drones to handle exterior soft-washing, before ultimately evolving to build its own drones. It now offers what it calls the  C1 Cleaning Drone, which starts at $28,499.

The company capitalized on the COVID-19 pandemic by building a D1 disinfecting drone (editor’s note: COVID-19 is largely considered to be spread via airborne transmission). In 2021, the company’s founders were awarded Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for technology.

Lucid Drone Technology window washing

T-Mobile’s bet on drones

T-Mobile has had its hands in an eclectic mix of drone applications that rely on low-latency, high-speed data, and real-time location and proximity-based services. One of the telecommunication giant’s biggest steps in the drone industry was a partnership with The Drone Racing League to launch the drone racing league’s first 5G-enabled drone. That product, called Magenta, was one of the first racing drones in the world to have an embedded 5G module capable of live streaming video directly to the Internet. Prior to that, T-Mobile in 2020 made an investment in DRL via the company’s T-Mobile Ventures fund.

And T-Mobile is hardly the only telecommunications giant invested in drones. Verizon Robotics ws front and center at this year’s AUVSI XPONENTIAL 22 conference, which happened last week in Orlando. There, it hosted various demonstrations, expert speakers and meetings with robotics and device manufacturers around topics like making maps and models, autonomous navigation, and 5G for drones.

“We’re seeing demand for robotics jump as more organizations are moving into robotics to address labor shortages, maximize resources and differentiate themselves from the competition,” said Mariah Scott, President of Verizon Robotics. 

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