Robotics, autonomous driving and the metaverse push to relaunch the development of 5G | Technology
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5G is much more than mobile telephony with greater capacity and speed, sometimes imperceptible to the user. The development of applications in robotics, industrial processes, autonomous driving, broadcasts in 8k (emerging standard of audiovisual resolution on screens) or the parallel reality that the metaverse promises are waiting for the advances in this technology, on which they depend. The main companies providing services and developers of practical utilities will meet from May 9 to 13 in Seville for the celebration of the 5G Forum, an international meeting where, among other companies, Tesla will show its autonomous driving models; Telefónica, the Spot Xplorer robot (a dog-shaped machine for surveillance); and Lavinia, advances in experiences focused on the Metaverse.
5G began its journey a decade ago hand in hand with mobile telephony to promise greater range and speed, as well as lower consumption and delay (latency). However, its applications have spread to areas that were already anticipated at the Mobile World Congress in 2019, when the first remote-assisted surgical intervention was carried out in real time. Since then, its potential uses have not stopped growing faster than the development of the network, at least in Europe. According to Ricardo Medina, general director of the organizer of the 5G Forum (Medina Media Events), “in Spain, the vast majority of pilot projects have to do with the industry, with the company. The applications are being fundamental because they are not what it was thought that 5G would work better for.” “It turns out that it hadn’t been appreciated enough how good it could be,” he notes.
Those developments did not account for the telecom price war, the pandemic, the semiconductor crisis, the invasion of Ukraine, or inflation. Although some Asian countries and the United States have made progress, Europe remains behind in its expansion forecasts for this technology. According to Medina, “companies do not have the financial muscle that they were supposed to have at this point.” However, although he doubts an immediate recovery of this gap, he highlights other aspects in which progress has been made. In this sense, he states that “there is more fiber optics in Spain than in Germany, Italy, France and Great Britain combined”.
Antonio Muñoz, mayor of the city that will host the next 5G Forum, believes that the conditions are in place to recover ground: “political will, an ecosystem of companies and events” for the union of projects. In this sense, he highlights the new paths of development, which go through remote control, robotics, artificial intelligence, industrial production and the metaverse. Some of these applications will be present from May 9 in the Andalusian capital.
Tesla, as announced on Wednesday by Medina, will present its autonomous driving models, which have already reached the development of prototypes without a steering wheel. Telefónica will show a robot with 360-degree vision cameras that is applied to surveillance and first aid tasks. This is Spot Xplorer, a mechanical dog capable of quickly using stairs, avoiding obstacles and executing learned routes. Inspired by the biomechanics of quadrupedal animals, he has a thermal imaging camera, can see in the dark and recreate 3D graphics from the images he captures.
Robotnik, in collaboration with Orange, will exhibit remotely controlled infrastructure inspection machines for maintenance work. The difficulty of the terrains faced by the robots generates the need for a high capacity for transmitting information and very low latency.
Orange will also show a support developed to give remote instructions to the personnel in charge of resolving an emergency in a location with restricted access, such as the scene of a fire or a nuclear power plant. The receiver, equipped with virtual reality glasses, receives information that can be translated simultaneously and data to recreate spaces necessary for orientation and decision making.
The other field that pulls 5G is that of entertainment and virtual reality. Nokia will present Volcano, an application in the form of a game that combines artificial intelligence and extended reality to be able to walk, virtually, on an erupting volcano. The same company has developed Owl, that allows you to imagine teleportation and interact with people present in another place. Amethyst uses this immersive technology for the palliative therapy of neurodegenerative diseases.
The potential of this fifth generation of technology for 8K broadcasts will also be shown, a resolution of 7,680 by 4,320 pixels that quadruples the high-definition television standard and aimed at UHD (ultra-high-definition) monitors and televisions.
The Catalan producer Lavinia will exhibit its experimental laboratory of the metaverse, where avatars can move in all directions and using different vehicles through virtual labyrinths.