A testbed mobile network, with £1.6m of funding from the Scotland 5G Centre (S5GC), has announced a new ‘super immersive’ 5G remote robotics experience.
Developed at the University of Glasgow, a remotely operated robotic arm allows students to work on electronic circuits and experimental setups virtually alongside the lecturer and other students.
The tele-operational, 5G-powered arm uses a haptic feedback controller letting users ‘feel’ senses of touch, motion and pressure and the setup is also being adapted for other commercial applications where extended reality can be applied in real time.
Glasgow Uni’s tech can also provide remote access to specialist centres like the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre. The facility has a ‘clean room’ that requires limited and specialised access, and several measures are to be taken before humans can enter.
However, the robotic arm now allows virtual access for many and opens the experience and opportunities, enabling people to work remotely from other locations globally.
Commenting on the tech, Professor Muhammad Imran, research team lead at the University of Glasgow, said: “The potential for 5G is remarkable and we have attracted interest from universities in the USA, China, the Far East and the Middle East.
“The higher quality of user experience offered by 5G connectivity enables us to offer specialised training without students entering the physical space. This has been particularly beneficial during the pandemic and coping with the restriction of movement.
“The investment in super immersive technology combined with almost instantaneous connections provided by 5G allows us to open up to the world the learning experience available from specialist centres like the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre.
“It also creates dynamic virtual environments for our Electronics and Electrical engineering students, several of whom are learning remotely from our Glasgow College UESTC in Chengdu in China.”
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The University has already demonstrated, jointly with British Telecom, to the First Minister of Scotland how training in such specialised facilities can be carried out using Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) technology that provides immersive tele-presence experience to remote learners.
Commenting on accelerating the adoption of digital technology in Scotland, S5GC Chief Executive Paul Coffey, said: “The testbed built at the University of Glasgow is creating a major step change in ideas and adoption of 5G technology. The ability for students to be able to take part in complex work from another country is exciting and beneficial for the learner and the academic partner
“Giving remote access to world leading facilities to a larger number of people worldwide is hugely beneficial. We are able to create multiple use cases which generates an ecosystem for 5G and leads to further applications across manufacturing, healthcare and education sectors
“The market for remote solutions in the robotic market alone is predicted to be worth 16.8 million dollars by 2023, the potential for use of 5G across sectors is of enormous economic benefit.”