5G Unleashes Spot the
Robot for Airport Inspection|
March 8, 2021
If you flew in or out of Hans Christian Anderson airport near the Danish city of
Odense recently and glanced out the window, you might have seen a four-legged
robot called Spot freely patrolling the perimeter fencing and checking for
damage. But this was no fairy tale. The robot was real and connected to TDC
NET’s Ericsson-powered 5G. The 5G use-case trial was a partnership with the
Danish Technological Institute.
The trial was one of several 5G use case scenarios developed by the joint
Ericsson/TDC NET 5G Innovation Hub in Denmark. The partners have already
successfully tested and deployed indoor 5G-powered dedicated industrial network
with and deployed indoor 5G-powered dedicated industrial networks with Danish
water solutions provider Grundfos.
They are also pursuing use cases using TDCs’ commercial 5G network, which was
the first in the Nordics to achieve nationwide coverage in December 2020.
5G robotics breakthrough
In collaboration with the Danish Technological Institute, the partners focused
on how to unleash Spot – the Institute’s four-legged mobile robot developed by
robotic company Boston Dynamics – on TDC NET’s national commercial 5G network.
Spot had previously only performed tasks for the institute using Wi-Fi
connectivity. This mean connectivity range was limited. Spot’s operator also had
to be within 30 meters.
By connecting Spot to TDC’s commercial 5G network, the partners literally opened
the doors to new use case possibilities for the robot. The fast speed, high
bandwidth and extremely low latency of 5G provides the tools to send huge
amounts of data securely from the robot across the network and back in real-time
over large distances.
In theory where the 5G network goes – so too can Spot one day as the robot can
navigate uneven terrain, climb stairs and get into small spaces. Complete with
360 sensors, front and rear cameras and space for carrying packages and
supplies, robots such as Spot could operate in the field as part of emergency
response, rescue or industrial inspection missions.
That was the hope of the partners as they teamed up with Hans Christian Anderson
Airport and Lorenz Technology to perform perimeter-fencing security checks as a
first test case.
Airports, ports and many construction sites require several perimeter-fencing
checks every day to comply with security and safety directives. Current methods
usually involve employees patrolling the perimeter to check for signs of damage.
In the 5G trial, deep learning methods were applied so that Spot could examine
the perimeter for signs of damage in real-time. Spot navigated the fencing via
TDC NET’s Ericsson-powered 5G network.
The development of robot technology for fence inspection was supported by the
Danish Agency for Education and Research under the Ministry of Education and
Realizing the potential of 5G
The trial, which concluded at the end of February, confirmed that Spot can be
deployed for use cases beyond Wi-Fi and across a wide area via mobile networks.
The trial success gives the green light to innovate new use cases around
monitoring, image recognition and video analytics autonomous operations for
Thomas Hřiberg Giselsson, Senior Specialist, Danish Technological Institute,
says: “If you want real-time analyses, it is necessary to be able to process
data directly on Spot or to be able to efficiently transfer data to a suitable
device. Our test showed that by connecting Spot to 5G we have an opportunity to
conduct real-time analysis.”
Binzer, Vice President, TDC NET, says: “The Spot collaboration with the Danish
Technological Institute is a great and very concrete example of the
possibilities our nationwide 5G network brings. By connecting the well-known
technologies such as drones and mobile robots to the faster network, they are
able to solve new, more demanding tasks and thus deliver increased value. We are
still early in the development, but based on the partnerships we drive together
with Ericsson through our joint Innovation Hub, we are well on our way to
realizing the potential of 5G.”
Niclas Backlund, Head of Ericsson Denmark, says: “Industries and enterprises
globally are becoming increasingly engaged with the huge benefits that 5G will
bring to their indoor production and operations. What this exciting initiative
with TDC, the Danish Technological Institute, Hans Christian Anderson Airport
and Lorenz Technology highlighted is the power of commercial national 5G
networks to transform business and society.”