Ericsson has formed a new partnership with Nordic comms provider Telia to use its 5G network to perform livestream industrial inspections, and has released more details about its Project Reindeer to develop future 6G systems.
The project with Telia centres around Ericsson ONE, the company’s internal accelerator, and the two parties will kick-start a development programme at the end of January in partnership with a number of companies, experimenting with various drone streaming applications and regularly evaluating services to prepare drones for future 5G use cases.
The companies have created the first video streaming service in Sweden for industrial drones operating in hard-to-reach places.
In late 2020, UK fixed and mobile operator Vodafone joined Ericsson to trial automated flight paths for connected drones and, under the auspices of Ericsson ONE’s new drone mobility project, the Telia Drone Inspection Service enables companies to access difficult environments such as construction sites, railways, power grids and tall buildings to streamline inspections and improve industrial workflows.
The radio-controlled drones currently used for industrial inspection within line-of-sight can be easily adapted to the mobile operation via a hand controller connected to an LTE router. With a downloadable application, users can get started without needing additional hardware.
The drones will navigate via Telia’s mobile network, which is encrypted end-to-end between user and drone. The partners say these factors will allow real-time drone video captures to be shared securely with multiple people viewing on computers, mobile phones or tablets simultaneously.
They say personnel such as site investigators, technicians and industrial experts will be able to follow live video feeds to troubleshoot problems and monitor situations closely, improving quality assurance, reducing response times and lowering costs.
“Our new drone service, developed with Ericsson ONE to improve industrial operations in a range of challenging environments, will add new value to companies in a way that is not only cost-effective and faster to deploy but also safer, simpler and more environmentally friendly,” said Jan Pettersson, head of business design at Telia.
Fredrik Flyrin, innovation programme manager and Ericsson ONE intrapreneur, added: “Drones will continue to play a large role in society. We are working towards a future where drones can safely fly beyond visual line of sight, which will help companies streamline their operations and keep their staff safe. This new video streaming service for drones is an important step towards that future and towards faster and better decision-making.”
The customer programme starts on 29 January with initial customers Vattenfall, E.ON, Peab, Veidekke and the Vinnova project Edit 3.0.
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The recently initiated European Reindeer project, of which Ericsson is a key part, is led by a consortium of multi-antenna technology leaders. The project began on 1 January 2021 and will run for three and a half years, aiming to develop and build a smart connect-compute platform that will be critical to future 6G systems.
The project’s name is derived from REsilient INteractive applications through hyper Diversity in Energy-Efficient RadioWeaves technology, and Ericsson believes the development of RadioWeaves technology will be a key deliverable.
The wireless access infrastructure consists of a fabric of distributed radio, compute and storage and is designed to advanced the ideas of large-scale intelligent surfaces and cell-free wireless access to offer capabilities far beyond future 5G networks. Ericsson expects such networks to offer capacity scalable to quasi-infinite and perceived zero latency and interaction with a large number of embedded devices.
Among the key partners in the project are Linköping University and Lund University in Sweden, both of which Ericsson has a long track record of research collaboration with. The partnerships have included work in the areas of radio stripes and massive MIMO, respectively, and are expected to lay a strong foundation for the Reindeer project.
“The Reindeer project delivers an early marker for the development of next-generation wireless systems,” said Magnus Frodigh, vice-president and head of Ericsson research. “Together with our partners, we will take significant steps in key 6G technology areas, such as cell-free MIMO and large intelligent surfaces. Here, we will lead and contribute to several tasks ranging from concept design to implementation aspects, as well as the Work Package on Standardisation, Exploitation and Dissemination.”