5G prospects: Remote controlled trucks and surgery by radio

It looks like the perfect setup for one
Racing game: Steering wheel, pedals, a wall of six monitors showing the road. Judging by this, the task lacks a bit of action – you have to stop at a walking pace at a stop sign and keep track of a test area. But the thrill is something else: It is a real truck, which is controlled here in real time. The driver is sitting in Barcelona, ​​the vehicle is round
2000 kilometers away near Gothenburg in Sweden.

The truck of the company Einride, which one directs, is in a class of its own. There is no room for a human in the vehicle. Its beefy front is a concrete gray surface without windscreen or grille. Whether you can quickly get used to this sight in the rearview mirror?

The futuristic T-Pod trucks are supposed to drive autonomously. But in difficult situations – which could initially be, for example, a construction site area – a person should be able to take control by remote control. Here comes 5G with its extremely short data delays – the so-called latency – into play. This control commands can be transmitted to the vehicle virtually without delay.

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Telesurgery is considered an important 5G use case for the future

Suppliers and network operators have been swarming about the benefits of the new networks for years, and this time around the Mobile World Congress, there’s been so much 5G “to touch” like never before. A few meters from the truck demo at the booth of network supplier Ericsson, a band is playing. More precisely, half of the band, the bass player and the drummer. The guitarist and the singing keyboarder perform in another hall at the booth of the network operator Vodafone, the connection runs on a 5G network. The low latency makes it possible for them to play a song together as if they were in one place.

And in front of hundreds of spectators, a surgeon gives advice to colleagues in the operating room from the stage and, for example, records on pictures, for example, the nerve cords that they are not allowed to cut through. Telesurgery is considered an important 5G use case for the future. In China, a surgeon is said to have removed the liver from a test animal in January using remote-controlled robotic arms from around 50 kilometers away.

Also interesting: 5G between big promises and unanswered questions

It will take some time for such operations to arrive in everyday life – a solution for ambulances shown in Barcelona, ​​on the other hand, could be used sooner. The idea is to carry out an ultrasound examination if necessary on the way to the hospital. The images are transmitted not only in real time via 5G, but the doctor can also with the help of a haptic glove, the hand of the paramedic, who holds the ultrasound device to direct to certain points.

“5G was originally designed for the industry, so low latency and high bandwidth were the basic requirements,” says Ericsson manager Fredrik Jejdling. But the industry also wants to make the taste of the advantages of the super-fast networks consumers. So shows the chip company Qualcomm, how to watch television with 5G on a smartphone. In addition to the large display of a channel run at the bottom of the screen several other stations, between which can be changed.

The 5G wonders have their price

Even the virtual reality business is supposed to revolutionize 5G. Today, the intensive computational work for immersion in digital worlds must be done locally – either in the glasses themselves or a connected computer. But with the stable, fast cloud connection, servers in the network could substitute for it instead. The devices on the head would make it accordingly easier and more portable.

In Barcelona, ​​among others, Qualcomm demonstrated that this transmission can actually work by radio. An interesting secondary aspect would be that more value is being shifted from the VR specialists to the network operators. This can be good news for telecoms companies, who have billions to invest in 5G network expansion.

Because the 5G miracles have their price. The rule of thumb is that you need three times more base stations, each costing three times more than one for the previous standards – and on top of that consuming three times more power, says an industry expert in Barcelona.

Ericsson manager Jejdling does not want to accept that – this calculation leaves out, inter alia, that 5G build on previous networks. “The cost per transmitted megabyte is 5G lower than 4G.” The higher power consumption is due to the physics: “5G is as efficient as 4G, but if you have more spectrum, you also need more energy to power it up.”

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