What Enhanced Mobile Broadband Means for Intelligent Sensors & Robotics
In my last article, I covered how 5G with Cloud technologies will transform computing by shifting the computing power from the device to the Cloud through edge computing, making high-end experiences, such as high-quality wireless VR, accessible to more people at lower cost, without the need for constant upgrades and with a lighter form factor.
This transformation is pervasive, as the enhanced mobile broadband represented by 5G enables high bandwidth and low latency across all devices and sensors. The miniaturization of 5G chipsets and their integration in UHD video and depth cameras makes those truly mobile.
As 5G networks are rolled out either through Fixed Wireless Access (WTTx) and mobile networks, mobile video capture, broadcasting, and consumption are made possible.
Enabling 8/16K/Volumetric Mobile Video Capture and Broadcast
WTTx has considerable impact on very high resolution capture thanks to a larger data bandwidth pipe, making not just multicast possible, but 3D capture also a reality. High bandwidth requirements for volumetric video, such as capturing and broadcasting concerts or sports events, can be met and the capabilities for deploying intelligent sensors increased.
By becoming wireless, solutions are easier to install and become fully mobile, widening their use cases. As computer vision is experiencing major leaps, especially when combined with Augmented and Virtual Reality, we can expect significant impacts on scenarios like warehousing, retail, security, and robotics.
As well as the much larger bandwidth pipe, enhanced mobile broadband enables very low latency, which also impacts how sensors can be integrated in technologies, such as robotics, to make them truly mobile. They were previously confined to short-range environments, but now can be ready to “meet the world”.
Latency is a major requirement for end to end interactions and for computer vision to understand space and thus move adequately for intelligent decision-making. It’s also necessary for haptics and physical interaction, either in autonomous mode for a vehicle or robot, and also if remotely controlled via VR or Mixed Reality.
Autonomous and Remote Controlled Vehicles Clear the Path for Remote Droids
Droid: “an automaton that resembles a human being”.
It may sound like sci-fi, but it’s realistic to look at how the mobile high bandwidth and low latency are making new technologies possible.
By making intelligent video and haptic sensors truly mobile, automated and remote controlled intelligent machines can be deployed at scale in larger spaces as they can roam around. (I won’t go into detail about network slicing, millimeter waves, and beamforming in the context of 5G in this post, but all make enhanced mobile wireless performance reliable.)
Instead, it’s interesting to contemplate the possibilities. And this came recently to me as I was having Christmas dinner with my in-laws in China. Real-time social media videos meetings were possible, but I was discouraged as I felt the experience was too self-limiting. If it had been possible to have my mother join us for a few minutes at least, to experience this time and raise a glass, this would have been a more human social experience to add to our family memories.
If we had remote VR access to droids on demand, which do not need to have a full humanoid body, but at least vision, speech, and an arm, as well as a sentiment display screen, then this would make this type of remote social experience much more complete.
Enhanced mobile broadband, such as 5G, can make this possible as the required 360 video VR stream and haptics to control such a robot are possible. Coincidentally, as I was writing this article, such a technology feat was demonstrated by Toyota, as shown here. Teaming up with NTT Docomo, Toyota remotely controlled its T-HR3 humanoid robot wirelessly over a 5G network from a distance of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).
The robot is remote controlled from a VR headset, and provides haptic force feedback to the operator, allowing him or her to be fully immersed to safely operate the bot. The wireless 5G network, in partnership with NTT Docomo, enabled the low latency transfer of high bandwidth data in real time over a distance of 10 kilometers.
Toyota’s aim is to create a partner robot that can safely support human activities in a variety of circumstances such as homes and healthcare institutions.
However, this remote wirelessly controlled ability means that it can also enable a remote presence in a realistic way. The VR, Cloud, AI, and robotics fields are progressing so fast that simpler and more user friendly control suits and robots, available on demand, are on the horizon. One major factor is the higher video resolution necessary to make the VR experience more realistic – today, that’s a big bottleneck, but it will be solved thanks to the larger enhanced wireless broadband pipes provided by 5G technologies.
This means the ability to remotely experience situations and record them using the haptics and volumetric data transferred via the cloud. This can be useful for immersive training and accessing dangerous locations remotely but in a more human and intuitive way, making the intervention more profound and impactful. A VR Cloud user can also join in so that multiple users can experience what the operator or AI program is doing.
The possible use cases are going to augment our lives like never before, as the related technologies become pervasive thanks to user friendly design, easier installation, and lower cost to operate, and as they become embedded in buildings and wearables without needing cables and complex hardware. We are entering truly exciting times with such progress promising to enhance everyone’s life.
Click the link for more information about Huawei’s 5G transport network solutions.