Imagine a security system that was constantly monitoring a restricted area, such as a building site or port from the air. Not only could it alert the owners when there is a breach, it could also provide evidence via a live stream. A farmer could be notified about an incident hectares away, like a distressed cow giving birth or trapped sheep jumping the fence.

The team at VigilAir aren’t just imagining it, they've been testing the system in Spark’s 5G Co-Lab space.

VigilAir is one of around 10 companies getting a head-start on the future. Its ‘eye in the sky’ security solution combines the latest in drone technology with cloud-based software, developed for a step-change in connectivity. The company is also pioneering autonomous drones. These produce 360-degree spherical video and imagery to help with remote farm management.

5G will herald the arrival of autonomous drones because the network’s low latency means the drone can receive information in real time. This information could include hazards (such as a light aircraft nearby) and the drones could react to avoid collision.

Because 5G delivers large amounts of data at high speeds, it enables the production of imagery with sharpness and clarity for machine learning. 5G also has the ability to steer its beams of frequency. While most 5G is aimed at people and services on the ground, it is possible to point spokes of 5G coverage into the air, specifically for drones.

VigilAir General Manager Andy Grant says the advantages of Spark’s Co-Lab space is that vendors like Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson and Huawei can talk to potential customers visiting the lab. They can share resources and expertise as they work alongside like-minded entrepreneurs.