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Inmarsat announced the launch of its advanced new Velaris connectivity solution, which is uniquely positioned to serve as a catalyst for the safe and rapid growth of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) industry.

Powered by the Inmarsat ELERA global satellite network, Velaris will provide secure communications for commercial UAVs – commonly known as drones – to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and seamlessly integrate with aircraft in commercial airspace. Backed by military grade cybersecurity, it allows operators to send their UAVs on long distance flights and access various applications, such as real-time monitoring, to ensure safe integration with other air traffic. In addition, Velaris allows a single pilot to remotely operate multiple UAVs at scale, making operations more commercially viable.

Over the next seven years, the commercial UAV market is projected to increase from $2.32 billion in 2021 to $11.29 billion in 2028, marking a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.39% during this period. This will have a far-reaching impact on various aspects of business and society, ranging from cargo delivery, urban transport and surveillance to emergency services and disaster relief, including the supply of critical items such as medicine, test kits and food for remote communities.

To support this fast-paced growth, Velaris will unlock unprecedented new digital automation capabilities within the UAV industry, leading to significant advances in safety, productivity, customer service, location access and accuracy, while also reducing the overall cost of operations. Importantly, it will also support the transport of people and goods in an environmentally friendly manner.

Anthony Spouncer, Inmarsat’s Senior Director of UAVs and Unmanned Traffic Management, said: “Commercial UAVs have the potential to revolutionise a vast array of different industries throughout the world. However, to truly unlock their potential on a commercial scale, it is imperative that autonomous vehicles and unmanned aviation are safely and securely integrated into managed commercial airspace. That’s exactly what Velaris, as Inmarsat’s first global UAV connectivity solution, will deliver.

“Inmarsat’s unparalleled experience in air traffic management and aviation safety, combined with our established track record in civil and military UAV communications, ensures that we can support global regulators, air navigation service providers and UAV operators with seamless airspace integration. In addition, thanks to our ambitious and fully-funded technology roadmap, including our brand new ORCHESTRA communications network of the future, Velaris will continue to develop and evolve alongside the UAV industry, remaining its gold standard connectivity solution for decades to come.”

Inmarsat was recently crowned winner at the prestigious Air Traffic Management (ATM) Magazine Awards for its Pop-Up Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) Platform, developed with Altitude Angel. Furthermore, Inmarsat is well-integrated in the air traffic management industry as a consortium member of Cranfield University’s recently opened Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC). The company participates in several projects that aim to revolutionise the future of flight, including the UK Government funded Project HEART (Hydrogen Electric and Automated Regional Transportation) – which is developing the country’s first automated, zero carbon regional air transportation network – and Airspace of the Future (AoF) – which focuses on integrating UAV services with the wider UK transport ecosystem.

“We work with our global partner ecosystem to develop UAV terminals that deliver smaller, more cost effective multi datalink solutions,” added Spouncer. “These are optimised for a wide range of use cases so that our customers can always have the highest possible standard of connectivity. I’m pleased to launch Velaris today. Coming soon after the launch of Inmarsat ORCHESTRA and ELERA, this truly emphasises Inmarsat’s long-term commitment to the commercial UAV market.”