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The possibilities of 5G technology, from drones in disaster zones to robots

Academics from King’s are at the forefront of cutting-edge research into 5G technology, from using drones in disaster zones to robots in sport.

They have demonstrated possible ways 5G could be used in the future, including how the technology may be used to control drones to provide aid in disaster zones. Along with BT, Verizon and Ericsson, King’s recently demonstrated how a fleet of drones at the Strand campus could be managed from overseas. The drones were launched from the US by Verizon on a dedicated 5G network slice within BT’s network. The 5G network, hosted at King’s Strand campus, is a prototype of Ericsson research.

The demonstration centred around disaster response scenarios where drones controlled using 5G technology could be used. These scenarios included delivery of equipment, medicine, food, water and blood or the rapid deployment of a temporary cellular network to disaster zones difficult to reach.

Dr Toktam Mahmoodi, Senior Lecture in the Centre for Telecommunications Research at King’s said: ‘It has been a great experience working with BT, Verizon and Ericsson on this exciting demonstration. Emergency services have significant societal impact globally and we are proud to be part of this effort. Technologically, we have demonstrated 5G capabilities in delivering ultra-low latency services in global scale through integration of different techniques including 5G low latency radio, edge cloud computing and federated network slicing.’

As well as exploring the potential of  5G to control drones, academics from King’s have debuted the world’s first  5G end-to-end network at  Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest conference for the mobile industry.

At the conference, King’s team,  led by Dr Maria Lema, demonstrated ‘5G for Sports,’ a 5G-connected robotic football player, together with the University of Surrey and University of Bristol. Visitors are invited to remotely control a player by kicking a football, the movement of which will be instantly replicated by a robotic foot located on a different stand.

The core of both these demonstrations is the technological components that will allow experts to share their physical expertise with a global audience in real-time. Surgeons will be able to physically guide medical students on other continents. Musicians will be able to transmit their ‘muscle memory’ wirelessly to exoskeletons worn by beginners – demonstrating the movements required to perform the most complex compositions without needing to be in the same room.

Mischa Dohler, Professor of Wireless Communications and Head of the  Centre for Telecommunications Research at King’s said: ‘We are immensely proud to be part of this programme and to have achieved the UK’s first 5G Massive MIMO test. It is the product of years’ long engagement with large industries, and testimony to King’s incredible research and innovation capabilities.’

Interested in studying Informatics at King’s? Find out more here.