Verizon inked a deal with the Los Angeles Times to integrate advanced robotics, drones and other connected technologies into the newsroom toolbox.

Specifically, the L.A. Times plans to use 4G-connected drones and 5G-connected ground robots, along with 3D modelled data to bring a new view to its audience. The collaboration is aimed at enhancing both newsgathering and storytelling with more immersive technologies.

Verizon said the initial focus will be to use HD and near real-time video feeds from air and ground robots to provide up close views and “see what the robot sees.” Ground robots will grab digital photos from onboard cameras in hard-to-access areas, providing visuals from miles away. The L.A. Times also plans to use digital twin models to add visual and location information from multiple perspectives, either in near real-time or after-the-fact recreations, according to the announcement.

“This collaboration with Verizon will allow us to build on our expertise in video journalism, data visualization and product design to create deeply immersive and immediate extensions of our reporting with their best-in-class technologies,” said Chris Argentieri, president and COO of the L.A. Times.

Verizon’s 4G LTE and 5G Ultra Wideband wireless networks, along with edge computing and software technologies will support the efforts.

And that doesn’t appear to be the end of the relationship between Verizon and the L.A. Times. As Trevor Wichmann, director of Verizon Robotics Business Technology, told Fierce, the carrier will be introducing developments in multiple phases, with updates expected later down the line.  

The agreement covers more than wireless connectivity, confirmed Wichmann, who leads strategy & operations, marketing, sales engineering and solutions sales for the robotics business unit.

“There are a multitude of applications that the L.A. Times can apply when combining drones and ground robots with Verizon’s network, edge computing and intelligent software technologies,” he said, without going into specifics.

Verizon introduced its new Robotics Business Technology unit last July, run by Mariah Scott, as part of New Business Incubation at the carrier.

The unit includes Verizon-owned drone management company Skyward, Austria-based autonomous mobile robots software developer incubed IT – which Verizon acquired in 2021, as well as a team focused on automating command and control of robots on Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network.

The 5G Ultra Wideband network leverages both C-band and millimeter wave spectrum. And since the mid-band 5G airwaves launched in January from Verizon, they now cover 100 million people.

“Enterprises in many industries are adopting drones and ground robots to gather data, survey and monitor infrastructure, and automate logistics operations,” Scott said over the summer when the robotics unit formed. “By integrating these fleets with one operational platform, and leveraging Verizon’s advanced connectivity solutions, businesses can speed up time to insight, increase automation of their operations and deliver greater value.”

For now, Wichmann said Verizon isn’t sharing details on the specific drones or robots that the L.A. Times will be utilizing as part of the joint collaboration.

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