Thales and Telstra join forces to unlock the potential of low-altitude airspace

  • Thales and Telstra combine their expertise with a view to building a robust, safe and secure ecosystem that will enable the management of low altitude airspace for manned and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
  • Thales and Telstra have jointly prototyped a data and communication solution to prepare the way for the integration of manned and unmanned traffic in Australian skies.

The massive increase in commercial UAVs, commonly known as drones, will require a totally new way to manage airspace. Digital technology brings opportunities to manage the complexity of integrating drones in our airspace to enable safe access for their users.

Thales, the global leader in air traffic management and Telstra, Australia’s best mobile network provider, have combined their expertise with a view to building a robust, safe and secure ecosystem to manage low altitude airspace for manned and unmanned vehicles, such as helicopters, drones and autonomous flying taxis.

The ambition is to create a robust digital communications network infrastructure using Telstra’s expertise, to underpin the navigation and surveillance ecosystem needed to safely manage low altitude airspace.

Thales and Telstra’s prototype air traffic control platform, called Low Altitude Airspace Management (LAAM) is capable of integrating manned and unmanned traffic, and will include automated drone flight approvals and dynamic airspace management. This collaboration will foster the development and growth of new products, services and innovations.

Thales is a global leader in air traffic management with systems deployed in over 140 locations globally. Through its ECOsystem digital platform, Thales is developing the most advanced collaborative airspace management tool for commercial UAVs.

With the huge increase in drones in the airspace, flights per day will go from thousands to millions. The challenges are enormous, as are the opportunities. In Australia drone use will drive efficiency and financial benefits to a large proportion of Australian businesses. Thales is partnering with Telstra to contribute to the creation of a seamless sky where we help our customers integrate unmanned aircraft into controlled airspace as well as supporting drone users to perform their missions in an orderly, safe and timely manner.

Chris Jenkins, Chief Executive, Thales Australia

Telstra is playing a strategic role in the development of a future safe and secure drone-based economy through its leadership position in network and data technologies.

There are extraordinary opportunities for the widespread take-up of unmanned aerial vehicles in Australia. To unlock this potential, we are investigating how we can leverage our 4G and 5G technology and IoT capabilities to enable robust communications, navigation and monitoring of UAVs. The work we’ve been doing with Thales to build a prototype, which is underpinned by continuous investment in our networks, proves that it is possible for unmanned and manned aerial vehicles to collaborate effectively and safely.

Andrew Scott, Head of Technology, Telstra Labs


About Thales

The people we all rely on to make the world go round – they rely on Thales. Our customers come to us with big ambitions: to make life better, to keep us safer. Combining a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, our architects design and deliver extraordinary high technology solutions. Solutions that make tomorrow possible, today. From the bottom of the oceans to the depth of space and cyberspace, we help our customers think smarter and act faster - mastering ever greater complexity and every decisive moment along the way. With 65,000 employees in 56 countries, Thales reported sales of €15.8 billion in 2017.

About Telstra

Telstra is a leading telecommunications and information services company. We offer a full range of services and compete in all telecommunications markets in Australia, operating the largest mobile and Wi-Fi networks. Globally, we provide end-to-end solutions including managed network services, global connectivity, cloud, voice, colocation, conferencing and satellite solutions. We have licenses in Asia, Europe and the United States and offer access to more than 2,000 points of presence across the globe. For more information visit www.telstra.com.