Scotland is making ‘substantial progress’ in developing new applications using 5G technology, according to the chief executive of the Scotland 5G Centre.
Launched one year ago, the Scottish Government-backed centre aims to champion and promote the benefits of 5G connectivity.
One project that has already been tested and is ready to go to market is led by the University of Glasgow.
Funding from the Scotland 5G Centre has enabled researchers to build a 5G network ecosystem that will enable test and development of multiple use cases.
One of the first use cases to benefit from this facility allows University of Glasgow students to conduct their lab experiments remotely, using a pioneering robotic arm. This is believed to be one of the first demonstrations of remote robotics being used in the higher education sector.
Professor Muhammad Imran, who leads the research team at the University of Glasgow, commented: “Using direct control of robots with zero-lag connections, researchers and technicians will be able to have a physical presence in the lab from the other side of the world if need be.
“Our trials included Glasgow students in China using our robots in Glasgow, as well as the other way around.”
Paul Coffey, chief executive of the Scotland 5G Centre, said: “A robotic arm is always going to make people sit up and take notice.
“I am pleased to say that fine-tuning is now complete and this pioneering 5G-based technology is ready to enable manufacturing and other industries to be able to carry out complex tasks from offsite locations.”
Long-term, Coffey said that 5G technology has the potential to transform manufacturing and factory operations. The benefits are not limited to manufacturing, however. Coffey added that the technology can be harnessed across “several sectors,” including construction, education and healthcare.
Coffey continued: “I do believe that 5G will transform how we communicate in all walks of life.
“Sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing and education are set to reap significant benefits as a result.”
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Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands said: “5G connectivity presents a significant opportunity for us in the years ahead, especially as we look to generate a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Scottish Government’s investment in the Scotland 5G Centre recognises the need to enhance and widen digital connectivity for everyone in Scotland, to ensure that no one and no part of the country is left behind and we can all benefit from the potential economic and social opportunities that next-generation technologies offer.”
Over the next 12 months, the Scotland 5G Centre will also continue to roll out its S5GConnect Programme, delivering the next stage of the Scottish Government’s 5G strategy with a series of hubs, as announced in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government.
These hubs will support economic growth through the deployment and adoption of 5G services across Scotland and are supported by a £4m investment from the Scottish Government. The first Hub, located in Alloa, is due to open by May 2021.