AT&T launches a Flying COW to assist during disasters

We have all heard the figure of speech “when pigs fly” which means something is impossible, but for AT&T where nothing is impossible there is a flying COW!

Image Credit: http://about.att.com

The Flying COW is actually AT&T’s all-weather flying Cell On Wings aka Flying COW (so no MOO MOOs were harmed in any way!)

What is the Flying COW?

When a major disaster strikes and destroys major infrastructure such as power and cell towers, communication becomes a major issue. Therefore, re-establishing a reliable method of communication is key for first responders. They not only need to communicate with each other to coordinate rescue and relief efforts, but also need to be able to find and contact survivors and those in need of help.

To help rapidly establish communication AT&T together with First Responder Network Authority have built a drone which is a flying cell tower. On board the COW are small cells and antennas which are easily transported and deployed to provide LTE communication in an emergency in virtually any location.

The COW can also see through smoke, tree cover, and other obstacles with the help of thermal imaging. This tech allows the first responders to access a level of information that will literally save lives. Being able to identify people and animals from the sky will direct the rescue team directly to where they are needed without wasting precious time searching abandoned buildings. The thermal imaging will also help guide the responders away from dangers which are not immediately visible from the ground.

Flying in any weather

This weather-hardened drone has rugged features and enhanced capabilities and it purposefully built for a more robust role in extreme environments. It can withstand a tropical storm with heavy rain and wind gusts up to 50 mph. It can fly in snow and extreme temperatures ranging from below freezing to sweltering heat.

Unfortunately, we can expect more disasters – both natural and man-made  –  and this is a superb tool to have to help keep the first responders safe to they can save more lives and restore order to the effected communities.

Glad to see that AT&T isn’t just about cell phones and airtime, but about making real difference where it matters most.  I had the opportunity to see this first hand at the AT&T Foundry in Texas where Research and Development happens:

 

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