Drone data cannot solve for the legacy data problem until it can achieve millimeter accuracy and generate engineering-grade 3d models. Attributes like lattice structure width, pipe thickness, bolt sizes and the degree of twist and sway are all essential measurements that tower technicians must collect. To augment and replace measurements taken in the field, the 3d digital model generated from a drone must achieve no less than this level of detail.
Analytics engines must recognize the make and model of inventory, not just detect the shape of antennas, dishes and RRUs. They must produce engineer-stamped 2D and 3D CAD drawings, not just tell you the estimated heights, tilts and azimuths of equipment. They must automatically generate reports, and not require a tower climb to validate measurements.
When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. The drone industry has simplified the telecom problem to “inspections”, and formulated a solution around precisely the tool they had in hand – off-the-shelf drones (the hammer). However, to solve for legacy data, the telecom industry needs a different kind of tool. Instead of adapting problems to the tool, it’s time we adapt the tool to the problem. In this case, it’s time for a new kind of drone sensor.