TIM gets busy with drone, robot, virtual reality 5G demos

Features

TIM is betting on the likes of drone-based public safety networks and cloud robotics as it looks to nail down relevant use cases for 5G.

It is the latest European operator to explore the potential of the next generation technology, following a series of trials that have been announced this year.

The Italian operator’s recent 5G Day revealed the results of demos with a range of vendors including Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia.

A test with enterprise drone company SeiKey showed how networked drones could ensure citizens safety as well as compliance with aviation standards without the need for a human to remotely control the vehicle like they do today.

The first drone demo involved vehicles sending live video streams via a cloud computing server to a control centre. Among the real-life applications were filming live footage for emergency services during disaster scenarios.

A second demonstration showed how a mobile network could run a drone on autopilot, allowing it to be tracked through a control centre and ensuring the vehicle complies with aviation rules.

TIM also talked up how drones would ultimately to be used to deliver parcels and automate monitoring services.

Virtual reality tests have already hit the use case and proof of concept stage, and TIM focused on its potential for entertainment, tourism and industrial design.

People were able to take a tour of Piazza Carlo Alberto in Turin that had been realised through laser scan technology. "Visitors" were able to view the city's landmarks and also take advantage of special features through interactive brochures.

So-called "social VR" would allow people to meet virtually and play the likes of table tennis with someone thousands of miles away.

Turning its attention to industrial systems, TIM said cloud robotics could be used for a highly automate system where production is tracked and controlled through the cloud by using a 5G network.

It said this could reduce the levels of physical infrastructure, increase efficiencies and streamline the production process.

Other uses of the technology, which is being trialled with Ericsson, are just-in-time deliveries to a production line, correlation of different kinds of data streams and managing robots remotely.

A third demonstration focused on the 24GHz millimetre wave band that hit peak throughputs of more than 70GBps. The trial involved Huawei and showed how a mixture of small cells, beamforming and beamtracking could result in high data rates.

Finally, TIM and Nokia showed off an early version of 5G architecture, using the latter's AirFrame data centre infrastructure and AirScale Radio Access product, which TIM said could deliver LTE at 1800MHz and 5G at 4.5GHz.

Last week, TIM hit speeds of 700MBps on a "live" network in demonstrations in Turin.

Speaking at the time, Giovanni Ferigo, Head of Technology at TIM, said: “We are forging a path to the new 5G technology, a challenge that leverages our most important asset: the network."