5G connected humanoid robots could roam disaster areas

Human’s wearing exoskeletons could control robots in disaster areas almost instantly by using high-speed 5G networks. The futuristic vision for 5G networks was one of a number of experiments being conducted with the technology, which could be available as soon as 2020.

South Korean technology firms SK Telecom and Samsung were both demonstrating a 7.55Gbps 5G network at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with the former speculating on how the technology could be used in the future.

A spokesperson for SK Telecom told WIRED.co.uk that the lack of latency over 5G made it ideal for controlling humanoid robots using exoskeletons. Latency is the time it takes for a data packet to get from one point to another, with any delay having a big impact on how immediately a command can be sent and received.

Latency on current 4G networks is around 50 milliseconds, but on experimental 5G networks this drops to below 1 millisecond. SK Telecom said this gave the human operator wearing an exoskeleton near-instant control of a robot, even over long distances.

In a demonstration at Mobile World Congress, sensor data received by the exoskeleton was sent to a humanoid robot over a small distance. SK Telecom said it would be possible to have the same immediate control over distances of up to 1km, something which is impossible to do over 4G.

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