The two firms aim to deploy connected robots next year using 5G networks

Japanese telecom operator SoftBank and Huawei Wireless X Labs recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the connected robotics field.

Under the terms of the agreement, SoftBank plans to offer automated robots Cube and Kibako, while Huawei will provides 5G wireless networks. Joint efforts will be conducted to implement 5G-based smart service robots by 2018.

According to the Chinese vendor, there will be 1.3 billion people aged over 60 by 2030, accounting for 16% of the world’s total population. This represents an increasing number of the population that will require special care and nursing. The two companies highlighted that service robots will play an important role to resolve this challenging social issue. These new robots must fully comprehend its immediate surroundings to complete specific tasks, such as goods delivery in an open environment, interactions with natural languages or gestures, security inspection and checks, and even more complex household activities, Huawei said.

A service robot is connected to cloud AI. Cloud AI implements recognition and analysis of the local environment and returns a result back to the robot. 5G can then offer tens of Mbps uplink bandwidth and ubiquitous indoor/outdoor coverage required by machine vision and radar data. 5G can also enable data sharing among multiple robots to facilitate machine learning and evolution of AI.

“A new 5G digital world is taking shape. Future applications need further collaboration between AI terminals, mobile connections, and cloud AI. This imposes high requirements on ultra-high bandwidth for uplink data transmission, ultra-low latency for downlink control, precise positioning, and coordinated synchronization. 5G is well established to provide real-time reliable connections to satisfy a growing list of diversified demands,” said Wang Yufeng, R&D director of Huawei Wireless X Labs.

In September this year, SoftBank and Huawei have partnered to demonstrate potential 5G use cases for its enterprise partners.

The demonstration included real-time UHD video transmission using ultra-high throughput, remote control of a robotic arm using ultra-low latency transmission and remote rendering via a GPU server using edge computing.

The real-time UHD video transmission demonstrated throughput of over 800 Mbps. Also, the remote control of the robotic arm demonstrated an ultra-low latency one-way transmission of less than 2ms.

SoftBank said it is planning various experiments to study 5G technologies and aims to launch 5G commercial services around 2020.

The Japanese has been actively carrying out pre 5G and 5G trials with several partners including ZTE and Ericsson. ZTE and SoftBank have been collaborating on pre-5G technology research and development including Massive MIMO technology, with the partnership also covering 5G New Radio (NR).

SoftBank also plans to work with Ericsson to conduct a joint trial of 5G in the 4.5 GHz band in dense, urban areas of Tokyo. The two companies recently said this 5G trial will involve two new radios, virtualized radio access network and evolved packet core RAN, beamforming, massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) functionality and support services.

Ericsson said that the trial will start once the Japanese telco obtains an experimental 5G license.

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