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Transforming machine remote control operations through 5G


5G is being deployed now, opening up exciting new opportunities for operators and enterprises. We’ve identified the most important use cases, machine remote control being one of them.

The potential of machine remote control is huge. Industries are already using wireless technologies such as private wireless in their remote operations. 5G brings machine remote control to a new level with previously unimagined opportunities like working in environments that are too dangerous for people to venture, or impossible to reach. 5G allows us to precisely steer drones, cranes, and other equipment for industrial and rescue applications -- increasing speed, safety and efficiency across a range of industries.

The 5G difference 

The need to transmit more data back to the command center is driving demand for 5G, and the higher uplink capacity it provides. For example, a private wireless network can support Full HD video streams where as 5G’s capacity is required to support multiple high quality 4K video feeds.

In addition, 5G supports the highest density of connected wireless devices and sensors. Over time, the increasing density of remotely controlled machines and demand for data-intensive control methods, such as haptic feedback (more on this later), will compel more industries to evolve to 5G.

Surveillance drones save lives in rescue missions

When a disaster or incident threatens lives, emergency responders need information and real-time imagery to save time and make smart decisions. Surveillance drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can use video to provide situational awareness over a large area quickly. Enabled by 5G, first responders can rely on 4K video quality to precisely control a drone as well as  reduce the number of searchers and time required to find and rescue a person, while minimizing the cost and risks of these missions.

Topped with low latency for accurate and responsive control of drones -- added, perhaps, thermal cameras and even drone speakers, helping to warn and guide affected populations -- the possibilities for helping ensure public safety are endless.

Safer, more efficient mining and industrial applications

For industrial sites such as mining, 5G enables network reliability for higher volumes of connected devices for better security, capacity and overall performance. Today, 90 percent of mining accidents are caused by human error or worker fatigue.  A fleet of remote controlled or autonomous trucks, shovels or drilling systems -- all with limited human presence -- can greatly improve safety, productivity and efficiency.

While the main goal is to reduce risk in hazardous environments, it will also enable 24/7 operations of machinery from a safe distance. We’ve already seen how Komatsu’s autonomous haulage system -- the first in the mining industry to run on private wireless in commercial operation --  allows for unmanned operation of ultra-class mining trucks, reducing worker’s exposure to harm, improving mine-site safety, reducing operating costs, and increasing productivity and efficiency.

When remote controlled machines are partnered with AI and machine learning, we can even augment decision-making by providing predictive alerts, isolating causes, and suggesting possible courses of action.

Precision operations, done remotely with haptic feedback

Haptic feedback tricks us into thinking that what we're experiencing in the virtual world is real. Although it has been used for years -- mostly in gaming -- the sensation never felt very realistic and is often delayed.

5G allows machines and their human operators to be in perfect sync, as they steer and “feel” objects and environments with haptic feedback. With 5G and its low latency, we can now support the realistic haptic feedback required for precision operations.

Imagine feeling the wind speeds, or cable vibrations, that may affect operations at remote locations via sensors fed with low latency. Haptic can warn a remote crane operator that they are getting too close to the edge of the safe operating area.

Not only does 5G make it possible to control robots remotely over long distances, but it will allow for other remote applications, in any number of industries -- for example, allowing surgeons to remotely operate a scalpel with incredible precision.

Unlock the potential of 5G and remote machinery

With 5G’s potential, remote control of machines will be massively used and the possibilities for various industries are endless from safer management of hazardous materials in the energy sector, to remote surgery in healthcare and more.

We’re working constantly with our customers to find new use cases. How would you utilize 5G in the industry you work in? Visit our new website for more information on 5G  extraordinary experiences and how they can transform your business.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia or @nokianetworks using 5G

Petra Vakiala

About Petra Vakiala

Petra is a professional marketer at Nokia, currently concentrating on solutions for enterprise customers in segments like public safety, smart cities and mining. She holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Stockholm and is based in Espoo, Finland. During her spare time, you can find her recharging her batteries at the family cottage located on an island called Kemiönsaari in the South-West of Finland.

Tweet me at @petravakiala

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