Ericsson, Qualcomm and Dronus demo 5G use case with mmWave-powered drone – TelecomTV

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  • A manufacturing and warehousing use case involving a 5G millimeter wave-powered drone has been successfully tested by Ericsson in collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and industrial drone solutions provider Dronus. 
  • The 5G mmWave Drone use case is the first step toward production use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in a manufacturing environment. 

The Ericsson USA 5G Smart Factory has begun a proof of concept with an autonomous, natively 5G mmWave connected drone to perform indoor missions within the Ericsson factory. Starting with autonomous inventory checks in the factory’s warehouse high racks, the drone’s indoor-optimized flight control, 5G connected Nest docking station, and live video streaming cameras enable a wide variety of sensing solutions using the Ericsson USA 5G Smart Factory’s fully on-premises 5G private network.

The proof-of-concept marks a new milestone in the integration of 5G technology into industrial processes. It showcases the potential for autonomous barcode scanning using drones for inventory management in certain types of warehouses. The PoC uses a drone, powered by the Qualcomm® QRB5165 processor, with integrated 5G mmWave from Telit Cinterion and Ericsson’s end-to-end private 5G network.

The drone is one of the first natively mmWave 5G devices in the factory, signaling a shift from wired or Wi-Fi connections to native mmWave 5G connectivity for industrial use. It eliminates the need for external gateways or hotspots, which were previously required for similar use cases to use mmWave 5G. The Telit Cinterion FN980m mmWave industrial grade M.2 data card, equipped with the Snapdragon® X55 5G Modem-RF System, powers the drone’s 5G connection, designed for numerous high-performance and bandwidth-intensive enterprise and industrial uses.

Although the 5G drone test serves as proof of concept, it is not currently intended to address the needs of the USA 5G Smart Factory. The demo was focused on showcasing the potential of natively mmWave commercial-ready 5G devices for inventory management in warehouse settings.

Carlos H. Torres, Head of Industry 4.0 at Ericsson’s USA 5G Smart Factory: “This successful demo helps lay the foundation for future integration of 5G-powered drones in industrial settings, particularly for inventory management. At the same time, this proof of concept hosted by our USA 5G Smart Factory innovation team using drones for mmWave and private networks shows Ericsson’s commitment to advancing the non-mobile broadband ecosystem.”

Dev Singh, Vice President of Business Development and Head of building, enterprise & industrial automation at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.  says: “Qualcomm Technologies is committed to driving advancements in connectivity, AI and computing to enable the full potential of Industry 4.0 and beyond. Our 5G mmWave and drone technologies have the potential to transform inventory management, and the successful proof of concept with Ericsson, Dronus and Telit Cinterion demonstrates the practical application of these technologies in an industrial setting. We are excited about this milestone and look forward to seeing how it can be used to improve efficiency and productivity in the future.”

Marco Ballerini, CEO and founder of Dronus, says: “Constantly improving the connectivity of our solutions and expanding their scope of application are priority goals for us today. For this reason being chosen by a leading reality in the field of 5G such as Ericsson represents not only a particular reason for pride, but also recognition of the effectiveness of our constant commitment to research and development activities, which has led us to be a reality capable of standing out for unique technological capabilities in a highly competitive sector such as that of drones.”

Jitender Vohra, Sr. Director Carrier Relations, Telit Cinterion, says: “Our mmWave data card handles the complex job of networking the autonomous drone deployed in Ericsson’s pioneering 5G proof of concept at their USA 5G Smart Factory, securely and reliably. This partnership signifies a major advancement in incorporating 5G into industrial workflows, demonstrating the transformative capabilities of native mmWave connectivity, particularly in revolutionizing inventory management and more.”

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