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Watch the UK’s first 4G-powered drone delivery by Vodafone

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Santa riding a 4G-drone!

Christmas may be but a distant memory now, but there’s still one festive themed story that you’ll want to hear.

The UK’s skies saw a special flight taking place recently, when a model of the Man in Red was fitted to the top of a drone and flown across country. Ho ho ho holy moly!

This weird occurrence was thanks to the good people at Vodafone who organised a special delivery service for lucky remote workers, at the Portland Bill Coastwatch in Dorset, who keep people safe both on land and sea.

The folks at Vodafone wanted to give back to the team who were helping the wider community but, were not able to spend Christmas with their loved ones. To send a little Christmas cheer their way, the Vodafone company made up gift hampers and delivered them by drone.

Since Portland’s coastline is difficult to get to, sending gifts and surprises there can be quite a tricky feat. Luckily, Vodafone solved this problem by using a 4G-powered drone.

Of course, given that this delivery took place in Yuletide, the drone was made up as a Santa sleigh. It was the only logical thing to do.

Plus, as though that little festive twist wasn’t enough to make this a special ride, the drone was also the first ever one to be piloted by a 4G mobile network. Exciting.

Usually, drones communicate with pilots via a radio link. However, this particular method means that the drones don’t typically have a wide range.

In fact, the drones need to stay near to the radios to maintain signals at all times. That means that making deliveries with them isn’t so convenient and that only short trips can be completed.

Vodafone 5G

READ: Vodafone is taking on EE with its own 5G trials in these 7 UK cities

The Future of Drone Deliveries

Thankfully, as the 4G network now reaches 99% of the UK population, drones can now cover a much wider distance. That’s the very technology that Vodafone used to make sure that the volunteers got their hampers on time this year. The flight was a huge success and could be a sign of things to come in the not-so-far future.

“Technology plays an increasingly important role in connecting people over Christmas,” explained Vodafone UK’s CTO, Scott Petty on the company’s own blog. “And flying a drone over 4G for the first time gives us a glimpse of what Christmas deliveries of the future might look like.”

Since the Vodafone 5G network is soon to be rolled out around the country, Christmas 2019 might look very different.

This year, perhaps we will all be receiving our presents and even food hampers via mobile-powered drones. Watch this space.

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