Telco edge compute use case: aerial drones

Featured Telco Edge Compute Use Case

Introducing a framework for characterising telco edge compute use cases

STL Partners has been working across Consulting and Research to define the opportunity for telco edge computing and associated use cases. We see ideal candidate use cases for edge computing as those demonstrating a balance of requirements characteristic of both local (on-device / on-premises) computing (low latency, reduced backhaul and data localisation) and cloud computing (mobility, scalability and light device). This framework is best explored using an example edge use case, as described below.

Figure 1: The local vs. cloud balance

Source: STL Partners

Use case: Aerial drones

In this use case, telco edge computing is used to enable aerial drones and provide additional support to the compute that occurs on-board. Although independent drones can make most decisions autonomously, the edge can help aggregate data from multiple drones, particularly in the future when there will be fleets of drones used for logistics, aerial inspections, etc.

In this scenario, whereby drone flight is highly automated, the edge will be used to map the real-time drone location and flight plans to schedule takeoff and landing to prevent potential collisions. It may also incorporate data from additional sensors, e.g. those communicating the weather conditions, plus aircraft traffic control systems. Edge nodes reduce the distance of the communication loop from the drone to the air traffic control tower by allowing faster data-based decision making. Latency can be reduced to such a degree that a drone will travel two inches before the next update is provided, as opposed to twelve feet if the compute was to happen in the cloud.

Below we have highlighted how this use case maps to our framework for requirements characteristics. This is a clear example where an application would benefit from a solution that incorporates both local compute-like requirements and the flexibility of the cloud.

Figure 2: Aerial drones: traffic management

Source: STL Partners

Why edge?

The table below uses our framework for characterising telco edge compute use cases to demonstrate how edge compute can enable this type of application and which benefits are most relevant.

Source: STL Partners