Telstra eyes entry into drone market

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Telstra eyes entry into drone market

Wants to expand its use of UAVs.

Telstra is planning to expand its use of drones both internally and as part of “viable products and services” for external sale.

The telco last week unveiled plans to bring a drone technology expert into its chief technology office, with responsibility for "developing Telstra's capabilities within the area of UAV technologies”.

The expert will be put to work “leading the development of future proof of concepts that could possibly assist internally or help form the creation of viable products and services to be sold externally".

In addition, the new hire will be charged with “finding and creating avenues for future business, assisted through an understanding of the ecosystem and the application marketplace created with the assistance of partners”, Telstra said.

It appears the new expert will report through Stephen Harley, who joined Telstra in 2014 from iiNet, where he is best known as the founder of iiNet Labs. Harley’s remit at Telstra was expanded to cover drones and UAVs in July this year.

A Telstra spokesperson has been contacted for additional comment.

Over the past year, Telstra has raised the public profile of its interest in drone technology.

The most obvious use case for external sale is in providing mobile connectivity for communications between the drone and its operator, and potential connectivity with other ground-based systems.

On that front, Telstra in July revealed it is part of Boeing subsidiary Insitu Pacific’s drone rollout at the Shell-owned Queensland Gas Company’s operations in the Surat Basin.

Telstra is providing “technology and infrastructure support” to the project, which aims to enable a drone fleet to inspect gas wells, pipelines and production facilities that sit beyond the line of sight of the pilot.

The telco is also using drones for its own mobile tower and other site inspections, revealing earlier this year it has eight licensed pilots in five zones nationwide.

Telstra has also looked at drones to survey disaster-hit regions and to create broadcast media opportunities.

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