Flying Internet Connections & Flying Taxis

POSTED BY   James Dearsley
14th November 2017
Flying Internet Connections & Flying Taxis | TDMB Tech

Society is a fickle beast. There are the haves and the have-nots. According to news this week, drones will help both sides.


It is hard to think of a life without the internet but that is exactly the case in Puerto Rico after the recent hurricane. Nearly 50% of the country no longer has any cellular towers and are therefore without any internet connection. Isn’t it incredible to consider that this is such a catastrophic event to be without access to the outside world?

With a headtap to the strategy from Facebook to use drones to give access to the 4 billion people without the internet, AT&T is fighting to reconnect the more than 30 percent of Puerto Ricans without service by sending an LTE-equipped drone, known as the Flying COW (Cell on Wings), to the San Juan area.

This is the first time a drone has been used in this capacity after a natural disaster and one Flying COW could provide simultaneous service to up to 8,000 people, depending on the equipment used and the strength of the network. Obviously, it isn’t a permanent solution but one that will no doubt aid all relief work and social cohesion at a time when calm is needed (not to mention communication in this modern age).

Talking of permanent solutions, I also found it interesting this week to read about Uber and their plans for UberAir which I have heard about previously but dismissed as hot air because it was completely nuts and nothing more was said.

Could we be solving the ground traffic problems once and for all using personal drone travel??

Looking at announcements this week and the associated video – look at this one below – it seems they are really pushing for it.

Some key facts from the Wired article (probably one of the better articles I read on the subject this morning) that got me thinking:

  • Will cut journey time by 2/3s in LA
  • It won’t be building any flying cars – just the catalyst for a platform to provide the service. Essentially it will sort out all the bureaucracy I suspect…..but you have to do the rest!
  • Uber has signed an agreement with developer Sandstone Properties, which will install skyports on the roof of 20 of its buildings in the LA area – an interesting move and certainly making a grab for ownership immediately.
  • LA is the natural test bed for this given the mandate for helipads on building roofs until 2014 – how the hell is this going to develop from that test??
  • the company says full commercial service should be up and running well before the 2028 Olympics arrive in LA

Let’s see what happens. It’s a moon shot but an exciting one. There is no doubt, the sky is the opportunity – I have seen many exciting mapping tools banking on exactly this next step. We map the ground and we map the flight channels for planes – but not necessarily in between.

I am all for connectability and portability. Maybe drones can really deliver both for us. Either way, it is the moon shots that make people sit up and listen and understand the problems we are facing. Let’s hope some of these plans really get put in place.

Flying Internet Connections & Flying Taxis

James Dearsley

James Dearsley is the Founder and MD of TDMB. In addition to his work with us, he is also a renowned expert in PropTech, and was recently voted the most influential person in PropTech. An impassioned speaker and advocate of technology, particularly in the Property industry, his other interests include beekeeping, real ale, green trousers, and (currently) growing a beard. You can contact James directly via Twitter or LinkedIn, or tweet the TDMB team directly.

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