You may soon be able to buy a data plan for your drone, and while at first this might just seem like yet another monthly expense, the implications are actually pretty cool.
Verizon announced on Thursday that it’s going to work with drone manufacturers to connect the flying devices to their cellular network, The Wall Street Journal reports. Having a data plan would open up drones to being able to stream live video down to Earth while flying, along with any other possibilities a connection to the World Wide Web might offer.
That’s exciting, for a start, but ultimately a connection like this could allow drones to be piloted from far, far away. Right now, most drones are operated through a direct connection with a remote control. Any change, though, is also going to require a change of laws, as current regulations prevent drones from flying higher than 400 feet in the air — with few exceptions.
If the law changes, much-talked about ideas like drone package delivery could become a reality. Verizon hopes its Airborne LTE Operations, as they’re calling it, could jump-start this change.
“We believe we are uniquely positioned to enable the sort of data collection that will be necessary for regulators to make these decisions,” David McCarley, a technology fellow at Verizon Wireless, told the Journal’s Ryan Knutson.
McCarley said the technology could bring drone delivery “from the white board to the tarmac.”
For now, Verizon is just looking into offering the service to companies, starting at $25 a month for one gigabyte of data. Still, there could be a day soon when wirelessly connect drones zip about the sky delivering packages, patching outages in storms, and tracking far away disasters from on high.
Maybe one day you’ll be able to join in on the fun. You’ll still need a separate data plan for your smart fridge, though.
Photos via Getty Images / Bruce Bennett